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A qualitative analysis of New Zealand retailers’ responses to standardised packaging legislation and tobacco industry opposition

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BMJ Open

BMJ Publishing Group

PUBLIC HEALTH, QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

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      Abstract

      Objectives

      Many of the approximately 8000 New Zealand retailers selling tobacco are small stores that tobacco companies have represented as victims of policy measures designed to reduce smoking. Despite this depiction, many retailers experience considerable ambivalence in selling tobacco, a product they know harms their customers. We explored how retailers perceived the proposed introduction of standardised (or ‘plain’) packaging and their assessment of arguments made by tobacco companies in submissions on proposed standardised packaging legislation.

      Participants

      Using qualitative in-depth interviews, we recruited and interviewed 23 retailers of dairies (small convenience stores), small supermarkets, and service stations.

      Analyses

      Data were analysed using a protocol-driven approach; this stance enabled direct analysis of tobacco companies’ arguments, particularly those purporting to represent retailers’ concerns.

      Results

      Retailers were concerned about the financial implications of standardised packaging and the effects it may have on their ability to provide rapid and efficient customer service. However, few thought standardised packaging would foster illicit trade or spawn further regulation; most placed public health goals ahead of tobacco companies’ ‘rights’, and many supported government intervention to protect population health.

      Conclusions

      Retailers held ambivalent views on standardised packaging; while they were concerned about short-term effects on their business, they recognised the harm smoking causes. Policymakers and health researchers could collaborate more effectively with retailers by assisting them to create financially viable roles more compatible with public health objectives.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 27

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      Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years' observations on male British doctors.

      To compare the hazards of cigarette smoking in men who formed their habits at different periods, and the extent of the reduction in risk when cigarette smoking is stopped at different ages. Prospective study that has continued from 1951 to 2001. United Kingdom. 34 439 male British doctors. Information about their smoking habits was obtained in 1951, and periodically thereafter; cause specific mortality was monitored for 50 years. Overall mortality by smoking habit, considering separately men born in different periods. The excess mortality associated with smoking chiefly involved vascular, neoplastic, and respiratory diseases that can be caused by smoking. Men born in 1900-1930 who smoked only cigarettes and continued smoking died on average about 10 years younger than lifelong non-smokers. Cessation at age 60, 50, 40, or 30 years gained, respectively, about 3, 6, 9, or 10 years of life expectancy. The excess mortality associated with cigarette smoking was less for men born in the 19th century and was greatest for men born in the 1920s. The cigarette smoker versus non-smoker probabilities of dying in middle age (35-69) were 42% nu 24% (a twofold death rate ratio) for those born in 1900-1909, but were 43% nu 15% (a threefold death rate ratio) for those born in the 1920s. At older ages, the cigarette smoker versus non-smoker probabilities of surviving from age 70 to 90 were 10% nu 12% at the death rates of the 1950s (that is, among men born around the 1870s) but were 7% nu 33% (again a threefold death rate ratio) at the death rates of the 1990s (that is, among men born around the 1910s). A substantial progressive decrease in the mortality rates among non-smokers over the past half century (due to prevention and improved treatment of disease) has been wholly outweighed, among cigarette smokers, by a progressive increase in the smoker nu non-smoker death rate ratio due to earlier and more intensive use of cigarettes. Among the men born around 1920, prolonged cigarette smoking from early adult life tripled age specific mortality rates, but cessation at age 50 halved the hazard, and cessation at age 30 avoided almost all of it.
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        Tobacco taxes as a tobacco control strategy.

        Increases in tobacco taxes are widely regarded as a highly effective strategy for reducing tobacco use and its consequences. The voluminous literature on tobacco taxes is assessed, drawing heavily from seminal and recent publications reviewing the evidence on the impact of tobacco taxes on tobacco use and related outcomes, as well as that on tobacco tax administration. Well over 100 studies, including a growing number from low-income and middle-income countries, clearly demonstrate that tobacco excise taxes are a powerful tool for reducing tobacco use while at the same time providing a reliable source of government revenues. Significant increases in tobacco taxes that increase tobacco product prices encourage current tobacco users to stop using, prevent potential users from taking up tobacco use, and reduce consumption among those that continue to use, with the greatest impact on the young and the poor. Global experiences with tobacco taxation and tax administration have been used by WHO to develop a set of 'best practices' for maximising the effectiveness of tobacco taxation. Significant increases in tobacco taxes are a highly effective tobacco control strategy and lead to significant improvements in public health. The positive health impact is even greater when some of the revenues generated by tobacco tax increases are used to support tobacco control, health promotion and/or other health-related activities and programmes. In general, oppositional arguments that higher taxes will have harmful economic effects are false or overstated.
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          Adolescents' perceptions of cigarette brand image: does plain packaging make a difference?

          To examine the effect of plain packaging on adolescents' perceptions of cigarette packs, attributes of smokers, and expectations of cigarette taste, and to identify the effect of increasing the size of pictorial health warnings on appraisal of plain packs. We used a 5 (degree of plain packaging and graphic health warning)x 3 (brand type) between-subjects experimental design, using a Web-based methodology to expose adolescents to one randomly selected cigarette pack, during which respondents completed ratings. When brand elements such as color, branded fonts, and imagery were progressively removed from cigarette packs, adolescents perceived packs to be less appealing, rated attributes of a typical smoker of the pack less positively, and had more negative expectations of cigarette taste. Pack appeal was reduced even further when the size of the pictorial health warning on the most plain pack was increased from 30% to 80% of the pack face, with this effect apparent among susceptible nonsmokers, experimenters, and established smokers. Removing as much brand information from cigarette packs as possible is likely to reduce positive cigarette brand image associations among adolescents. By additionally increasing the size of pictorial health warnings, positive pack perceptions of those who are at greater risk of becoming regular addicted adult smokers are most likely to be reduced. Copyright 2010 Society for Adolescent Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Department of Marketing, University of Otago , Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
            Author notes
            [Correspondence to ] Professor Janet Hoek; Janet.hoek@ 123456otago.ac.nz
            Journal
            BMJ Open
            BMJ Open
            bmjopen
            bmjopen
            BMJ Open
            BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
            2044-6055
            2015
            09 November 2015
            : 5
            : 11
            26553840
            4654275
            bmjopen-2015-009521
            10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009521
            Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/

            This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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            Qualitative Research
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            Medicine

            qualitative research, public health

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