By keeping tobacco products hidden at convenience stores, the health of adolescents could be saved from certain ruin.
Teens don’t smoke so many cigarettes when tobacco products are kept hidden from view at convenience stores. This has been a finding that has proven that “out of sight, out of mind”.
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It is indeed visibility and invisibility that make one hell of a difference here. The new RAND Corporation study took place in a laboratory setting. It was a realistic replica of a convenience store complete with tobacco products that were either hidden from view or in plain sight of customers.
The display of tobacco products was an invitation to adolescents to start copying their elders and begin the smoker’s journey. But keeping them within a hidden compartment meant that there was no such opportunity for the youngsters to engage in copy cat behavior.
The difference was one of 11% when the power wall separating the tobacco products was opaque than when it was transparent. The advertising of these deadly tobacco products with their concomitant signs of a decadent and hedonistic lifestyle was something that served as an attraction for adolescents.
"These findings suggest limiting the visibility of tobacco displays in retail stores may reduce the number of young people who try cigarettes," said William Shadel, associate director of RAND Population Health Program and senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
The power wall was often positioned behind the cashier. And as an afterthought most teens bought a cigarette packet or two upon leaving the convenience store. Since the tobacco industry had shifted its focus from advertising in magazines and on billboards to point of sale displays, this strategy of hiding the displays paid off in the end.
Canada and many other nations have implemented laws that say that you cannot display power walls at convenience stores. This is a big step in the direction of wiping out the pollution and health hazards from the consumption of cigarettes.
About 241 teens participated in the study. Their ages ranked from 11 to 17. They were told that their shopping habits were being monitored. The real purpose of the study was not revealed until afterwards. The teens were divided into three groups which were given $10 per group to spend as they liked.
There were myriad products available at the store. They also filled out a questionnaire. It was found that hiding the tobacco products reduced the teenagers’ expectations and led to their not buying cigarettes or any other such high risk products.
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This has immense implications for future state policy. The way something is shown (or not shown) to consumers leads to their choices when it comes to some retail therapy.