Four of Victoria’s leading health organisations have called on the State Government to ban cigarette vending machines and remove the point-of-sale display ban exemption for specialist tobacconists
In a position statement sent to the State Government, Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, AMA Victoria and Heart Foundation Victoria have united after reviewing new research which shows Big Tobacco are using the boards to promote their deadly products.
Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said there was emerging evidence that tobacco companies were dictating the order in which products were ranked on the price board to secure favourable positions for the brands they wanted to promote.
Latest figures from a Cancer Council Victoria study found:
- Whether the brands at the top of the price board were from value, mainstream or premium market segments was often dependent on the area’s socio-economic status (SES).
- Brands that were listed in the top positions on the price board were more often premium brands in mid and high SES areas than in low SES areas (56%, 62%, 39% respectively).
- Low SES areas had more value brands listed in top positions than stores in mid -or -high SES areas (43%, 23% and 15% respectively).
- In 143 of 154 stores, at least three of the top four brands were owned by the same company.
- On average 55% of the top three or four brands listed on price boards were premium brands, 20% mainstream and 26% were value brands.
- Of the stores audited that had price boards, 11% arranged them alphabetically, 2% and 87% (154 stores) in some other way.
Ms Sharkie said the fact the tobacco industry was continuing to promote smoking as affordable for those on lower incomes by promoting value brands through price boards in lower SES areas was troubling.
“Although we have seen an accelerated decline in smoking rates amongst low income Victorians in recent years, they still make up the largest proportion of smokers and therefore bear a disproportionate burden of smoking-caused death and disease,” she said.
“Big Tobacco should not be able to further target these smokers by using price boards to promote their brands.”
Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Diana Heggie said price boards were already banned in Queensland and ACT.
“In those jurisdictions, retailers are only permitted to verbally tell their customers what products are available, their price and answer any questions that they may have,” she said.
“This is what we’d like to see in Victoria.”
AMA Victoria President Dr Stephen Parnis said specialist tobacconists should not be exempt from point-of-sale display bans.
“The majority of Australian states and territories either stipulate no exemptions for specialist tobacconists or have set an end date for exemptions so the State Government is falling behind best practice,” he said.
“There are about 145 specialist tobacconists in Victoria and while this exemption exists, Victorians are still being exposed to tobacco advertising and visual cues to smoke.”
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said cigarette vending machines continued to promote the association between socialising, alcohol and smoking, particularly to young people who often frequented pubs and clubs.
“Cigarettes are widely available in retail settings and it doesn’t make sense for such a deadly product to be so easily accessible to people at a time when their resolve is lowered by alcohol,” he said.
“Cigarette vending machines, by their very presence, are a means of tobacco advertising and promotion and we’d urge the Victorian Government to ban them as per the World Health Organisation’s recommendation.”