Study: Hiding Tobacco Displays Might Reduce Teen Smoking

Teens passing a cigarette back and forthHiding displays for tobacco products in convenience stores could lower adolescents’ interest in smoking, according to a RAND corporation study published in Tobacco Control.

Smoking rates among children and teens have dropped over the last 40 years, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 1975, nearly 1 in 3 twelfth graders smoked daily. By 1997, the figure had fallen to 1 in 4. In 2014, just 1 in 15 twelfth graders used tobacco daily. Smoking still poses a serious public health risk; 450,000 12- to 13-year-olds and about 4.4 million 14- to 17-year-olds have smoked at least once.

Hide Tobacco, Reduce Teen Smoking?

Researchers used a realistic convenience store replica to explore how tobacco displays affect smoking rates. They recruited 241 teens ages 11 and 17, then created three different trials with the tobacco in different locations. In one trial, it was behind the cashier. In another, it was on a side wall, and a third trial hid tobacco behind a screen.

Participants were told they were participating in a shopping study, not a study of smoking-related behavior, reducing the likelihood of changing their behavior. Each participant completed a survey addressing smoking habits, how frequently they saw tobacco ads, and how much they spend in convenience stores. Researchers then gave each participant $10 to spend on any of the 650 products in the store.

After shopping in the store, participants completed a second questionnaire designed to elicit their feelings about smoking. Teens who shopped in the store with hidden tobacco products were 11% less susceptible to future cigarette purchases. Whether the tobacco was behind the cashier or on a sidewall had no effect on smoking-related decisions.

Tobacco Policy Implications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products is charged with setting tobacco policy, including establishing guidelines about the circumstances under which tobacco can be sold. The study’s authors say they will provide their data to the FDA in the hopes that it may use the research to further reduce adolescent smoking.


  1. Hiding tobacco products at convenience stores reduces teens’ risk of future tobacco use. (2015, November 23). Retrieved from
  2. Smith, S. (2015, November 23). When stores hide cigarettes, teens smoke less. Retrieved from
  3. Trends in adolescent tobacco use. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • Rhea


    November 27th, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    oh please you know the more you make it taboo and try to hide it, the more interested in it they become.

  • John


    November 27th, 2015 at 2:41 PM

    There has been some proof that reducing exposure such as through advertising we can cut the rates of underage smoking. I guess that this would go along the same lines except there are some convenience stores that are so small that the displays would have no where to be hidden. Does this mean that these stores could not continue to sell tobacco products? That would hurt a great deal economically I would think.

  • glyn


    November 28th, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    So just go ahead and make smokes illegal- don’t you think that this is the goal of the anti smoking lobby anyway?

  • Ryan


    November 29th, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    This is not the only answer.
    It is a start but educating people from a very young age about the damage that tobacco use can cause? That is the biggest answer.
    Also take away the influence of powerful tobacco lobby

  • Esther


    November 30th, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    I would be willing to be that the cigarette industry would put up a huge fight against this one. They know that eventually they are going down so they have to make their stand until the very end.

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