A study using an interactive, virtual convenience store found adolescents were less likely to try to buy tobacco products when they were hidden from view.
The study, “Influence of Tobacco Displays and Ads on Youth: A Virtual Store Experiment,” is published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics and released online Dec. 3, 2012.
In the study, researchers asked more than 1,200 teens ages 13 to 17 to “shop” in a virtual store. The adolescents were divided among six different store scenarios, including versions where tobacco products were displayed openly at the point of sale and versions where they were hidden behind a cabinet. Compared to adolescents who shopped in stores with openly visible tobacco products, those who shopped in stores where tobacco products were hidden were less aware the products were for sale (32 percent versus 85.2 percent) and significantly less likely to try to purchase tobacco products (9 percent versus 24.3 percent, in the version of the store that included tobacco ads).
The study authors conclude that the results provide support for policies that would ban the display of tobacco products at the point of sale.