Hide The Cigarettes at Point of Sale and Kids Won’t Seek It

William G. Shadel, PhD Associate Director, Population Health Program Senior Behavioral Scientist RAND Corporation Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Dr. Shadel

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
William G. Shadel, PhD

Associate Director, Population Health Program
Senior Behavioral Scientist
RAND Corporation
Pittsburgh, PA  15213 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Shadel: The tobacco industry spends almost all of its multi-billion dollar advertising budget at retail point-of-sale locations.  A key feature of their advertising strategy includes the tobacco power wall, a prominent behind the cashier display of hundreds of cigarette and tobacco product brands.  The power wall also displays posters for those tobacco products as well as pricing information.  As such, it conveys a lot of positive messages about tobacco products to consumers.

The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate whether hiding or moving the tobacco power wall from its highly conspicuous location reduced teens’ smoking risk when they shop at convenience stores.   The study took place in the RAND StoreLab (RSL), a life-sized replica of a convenience store that was constructed to explore a range of options for regulating tobacco products at point-of-sale retail locations.  A sample of 271 teens (ages 11-17) was randomized to one of three experimental conditions: cashier (the tobacco power wall was located in its usual location, behind the cashier); side wall (the tobacco power wall was moved from behind the cashier to an out of the way location in the RSL); and hidden (the tobacco power wall was located behind the cashier, but was hidden behind an opaque wall).  After teens finished shopping in the RSL, they completed questionnaires that measured their susceptibility to future smoking.

Teens assigned to the condition where the power wall was hidden were significantly less likely to report that they would smoke in the future, compared with those that were assigned to the cashier condition.  Locating the power wall to a sidewall had no effect on smoking susceptibility.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Shadel: Modifying the point-of-sale environment, specifically by hiding the tobacco power wall, can reduce teens’ risk of future smoking.  Australia has implemented this policy option as a way of reducing the impact of the retail environment on tobacco use.  The results of our study confirm that this is a valid policy approach for tobacco control, and provides information to US regulators to inform their policy decisions.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Shadel: We did not evaluate smoking behavior outcomes (i.e., uptake of smoking) in this study, so it will be important for future research to examine hard behavioral outcomes as a function of changes to the retail environment.  Future research should also examine whether these findings are applicable to other tobacco products (e.g., chewing tobacco or nicotine containing products like electronic cigarettes).


William G Shadel, Steven C Martino, Claude M Setodji, Deborah M Scharf, Daniela Kusuke, Angela Sicker, Min Gong. Hiding the tobacco power wall reduces cigarette smoking risk in adolescents: using an experimental convenience store to assess tobacco regulatory options at retail point-of-sale. Tobacco Control, November 2015 DOI:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052529

William G. Shadel, PhD (2015). Hide The Cigarettes at Point of Sale and Kids Won’t Seek It 

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