Young people overwhelmingly support putting tobacco products out of sight in shops according to new research released today (Monday) by Cancer Research UK.

Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of 11 to 16 year olds want cigarettes put out of sight in shops. Only 16 per cent do not agree with the proposal. Researchers interviewed more than 1,400 youngsters from across the UK.

The results show the strength of support for new tobacco control legislation being discussed in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

One of the key new measures in the proposals is to remove all tobacco products from sight in shops. Researchers say there is good evidence that this will help to reduce the number of young people who start smoking by protecting them from tobacco marketing.

Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of those who had never smoked agreed that cigarettes should be put out of sight. Occasional and regular smokers and those who used to smoke or have tried smoking were less likely to agree.

More than half (55 per cent) of those who smoked occasionally, had smoked in the past or had tried smoking, agreed that cigarettes should be put out of sight. Nearly 30 per cent of regular smokers also agreed. Girls were more likely than boys to support putting cigarettes out of sight – 67 per cent of girls compared with 61per cent of boys.

Professor Gerard Hastings, lead researcher based at the University of Stirling, said: “Children see through the hypocrisy of the adult world which tells them not to smoke, but at the same time, allows tantalising displays of tobacco products in shops up and down the land.

“They also recognise the simple truth that children have a right to be protected from such dangerous blandishments. Policy makers must listen to them and ensure that tobacco is put out of sight as soon as possible.”

Younger children were also more likely to agree (77 per cent of 11 year olds) than older children (51 per cent of 16 year olds) that cigarettes should be put out of sight.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Tobacco advertising has been banned on television, in print and on billboards. Yet children are still regularly exposed to branding on packs and attractive tobacco displays in shops.

“Tobacco marketing deliberately tries to build a relationship with potential new young smokers. Over 80 per cent of smokers start before the age of 19 and half of all long-term smokers will die from cancer or other smoking-related diseases – that’s why we want to make smoking history for our children. With so much support from young people we urge Parliament to listen and put tobacco out of sight.”

For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264059.


More information about the current health bill

Cancer Research UK’s Out of Sight, Out of Mind campaign, launched this past summer, calls for a comprehensive tobacco control strategy that will take action to:

  • close the loophole which allows tobacco to be displayed at the point of sale;
  • prohibit the sale of cigarettes from vending machines;
  • require the use of plain packaging for tobacco products (the power to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products is reserved to Westminster).

The sample of 11 to 16 year olds came from households across the UK. Sampling involved a random selection of 92 electoral wards. Within each of the selected 92 wards a quota sample, balanced across gender and age groups, was obtained.

Sample numbers were Scotland (128), England (1168), Wales (61) and Northern Ireland (44). There were 703 males and 698 females in the sample. 956 were never smokers, 135 were regular smokers (smoking at least one cigarette a week) and 307 smoked occasionally or had smoked/tried smoking in the past.