E-cigarette marketing in UK stores : an observational audit and retailers' views
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OBJECTIVES: To explore how e-cigarettes are being promoted at point of sale in the UK and how retailers perceive market trends. SETTING: Fixed retail outlets subject to a ban on the display of tobacco products. PARTICIPANTS: Observational audit of all stores selling tobacco products (n=96) in 4 Scottish communities, conducted over 2 waves 12 months apart (2013-2014), and qualitative interviews with small retailers (n=25) in 4 matched communities. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The audit measured e-cigarette display characteristics, advertising materials and proximity to other products, and differences by area-level disadvantage. Interviews explored retailers' perceptions of e-cigarette market opportunities and risks, and customer responses. RESULTS: The number of e-cigarette point-of-sale display units and number of brands displayed increased between waves. E-cigarettes were displayed close to products of interest to children in 36% of stores. Stores in more affluent areas were less likely to have external e-cigarette advertising than those in deprived areas. Although e-cigarettes delivered high profit margins, retailers were confused by the diversity of brands and products, and uncertain of the sector's viability. Some customers were perceived to purchase e-cigarettes as cessation aids, and others, particularly low-income smokers, as a cheaper adjunct to conventional tobacco. CONCLUSIONS: E-cigarette point-of-sale displays and number of brands displayed increased over 12 months, a potential cause for concern given their lack of regulation. Further scrutiny is needed of the content and effects of such advertising, and the potentially normalising effects of placing e-cigarettes next to products of interest to children.
Eadie , D , Stead , M , MacKintosh , A M , MacDonald , L , Purves , R , Pearce , J , Tisch , C , van der Sluijs , W , Amos , A , MacGregor , A & Haw , S 2015 , ' E-cigarette marketing in UK stores : an observational audit and retailers' views ' BMJ Open , vol 5 , no. 9 , e008547 . DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008547
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This study was supported by grant 10/3000/07 from the National Institute for Health Research.
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