An intervention to reduce the number of convenience stores selling tobacco: feasibility study

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Abstract

Background

Reduction of the availability of tobacco has been proposed as a means of reducing and denormalising tobacco use. Some retailers have stopped selling tobacco. Therefore, we investigated how willing New Zealand convenience store owners were to stop selling tobacco or sell nicotine replacement therapy. Promotion of their stores was offered as an incentive to stop selling tobacco.

Methods

We asked convenience store owners in the Auckland metropolitan region of New Zealand to choose one of three actions. The first was to stop selling tobacco for a short period of time; the second was to restrict the hours that they sold tobacco; the third was to display and sell nicotine replacement therapy. All participating retailers completed a short interview about selling tobacco. We also surveyed customers about nicotine replacement and cessation.

Results

One-third of eligible retailers agreed to participate. Most who participated (93%) were unwilling to stop or restrict tobacco sales and 2 (7%) had already stopped selling tobacco. Tobacco was perceived as a key product for their businesses. Very few customers who purchased cigarettes noticed nicotine replacement therapy or obtained it from convenience stores.

Conclusions

Substantially reducing the availability of tobacco in communities is likely to require legislative approaches, underpinned by sustained community pressure and support for convenience store owners who are willing to change their business model.

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