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OTC says no evidence to support claims that the removal of Advertising and Display of Tobacco has led to an increase in tobacco smuggling


Issued by the Office of Tobacco Control
Monday, November 16, 2009

OTC says no evidence to support claims that the removal of Advertising and Display of Tobacco has led to an increase in tobacco smuggling

The Office of Tobacco Control (OTC) has said that there is no evidence to back up claims that the successful removal of point of sale advertising and display of tobacco products from retail stores this summer has resulted in an increase in tobacco smuggling.
OTC Chief Executive Eamonn Rossi said that he has been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there is no evidence that the in-store tobacco advertising and display ban has had any impact on the levels of tobacco smuggling. 
“We have to stick with the facts and the facts are that there is no basis for any link between recent tobacco control measures and smuggling. Smuggling of tobacco is in itself a serious problem and we congratulate the Revenue Commissioners and the Gardai on their recent successes in tackling tobacco smuggling.
“We wish the law enforcement agencies of the state every success in their important  work in combating this criminal activity. Whether tobacco product smuggled into the State is product produced by the tobacco industry elsewhere, or counterfeited it still has the same deadly effect.”
Mr. Rossi said that the removal of point of sale advertising and display was not expected to impact on tobacco usage in the short term, but was introduced as a long term strategic measure to protect children, in particular, from tobacco advertising.   
“Research clearly shows that tobacco advertising influences young people. While other outlets for tobacco advertising have long since been removed, in store advertising and extensive product displays helped tobacco to appear as a familiar, acceptable and normal retail product. This situation contributes to the perception common amongst youth that ‘everyone’ smokes. As a result, research shows that children are more likely to start smoking themselves,” Mr. Rossi said.

TNSmrbi research, launched recently by the OTC, showed that the vast majority of stores are now complaint with the new measures.

• 97% of stores were found to be storing cigarettes out of sight in compliance with the legislation•
• 98% of stores were compliant with the legislation regarding in store cigarette advertising.

In addition to the TNSmrbi compliance audit, the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, at the University of Nottingham, was commissioned by the OTC to carry out an evaluation of the Irish Point of Sale Advertising and Display ban.
Early findings from the evaluation show that the measures are proving effective at changing younger people’s attitudes and this is likely to change their behaviour in the longer term:

• In a survey of around 1000 people aged 15 and over support grew for the new measures from 56% backing the ban in April to 68% by September.
• 180 13–15 year olds were also interviewed in June and again in August. Before the ban 81% could recall seeing any cigarette or tobacco packs in shops in the last month. After the ban this had dropped to less than a quarter of the young people recalling seeing cigarette or tobacco packs in shops.
• A third of the teenagers also thought they or their friends could successfully buy cigarettes in June. After the ban only a quarter thought they could successfully purchase cigarettes in shops.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Ronan Cavanagh Montague Communications: 01 830 3116 / 086 317 9731.

Note to Editor:

Details of legislation on tobacco advertising and display from 1st July 2009

1. No advertising or display of tobacco products will be permitted in a retail premises that sells tobacco products;
2. Retailers must ensure that their tobacco products are stored out of view, within a closed container or dispenser only accessible by the retailer and retail staff;
3. The retailer may use a pictorial list (in accordance with Regulations) to inform a member of the public aged 18 years and older who intends to purchase a tobacco product as to the products that are available;
4. Retailers must display a sign at their premises informing the public that tobacco products may be sold at those premises to persons aged 18 years and over;
5. Self-service vending machines are prohibited except in licensed premises and registered clubs and must be operated in accordance with Regulations;
6. All retailers of tobacco products must register with the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC).

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