New figures from New South Wales and Queensland show that smoking rates among those aged 12 to 24 fell to 11% from 15% in the two years following the ban on tobacco displays.
The report in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research also shows a decline in cigarette brand awareness.
The Cancer Institute NSW study is the first to assess the medium term effects of the point-of-sale tobacco ban in NSW in 2010 and QLD in 2011 on youth attitudes and smoking behaviour.
The number of young people able to recall at least one brand fell to 59% from 65%.
The report suggests that the removal of tobacco displays from retailers has been associated with changes in beliefs about smoking among adolescents and young adults.
Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, said it has long been suggested that tobacco product displays effectively advertise brands, and that exposure to these displays and marketing is associated with both smoking susceptibility and smoking uptake among youths.
“Point-of-sale tobacco bans are contributing to the de-normalisation of smoking, particularly among youth, who we know are most at risk of being influenced by the power of tobacco branding,” he says.
“This report demonstrates that point-of-sale display bans, as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, are effective.
“This report joins the mounting evidence that demonstrates our world-leading strategies – including plain packaging, smoke-free policies and mass media campaigns – are making an impact.”
Another key predictor of youth smoking is the perception of peer smoking prevalence.
The report found that in the six to 12 months following the point-of-sale ban, young people were significantly less likely to overestimate the smoking of their peers.
“This further indicates that there is a vital shift taking place among our younger generation,” Professor Currow says.
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