Data released today by The Cancer Council Victoria reveals more than 9 out of 10 smokers never decide on the brand or type of cigarettes to buy based on the cigarette display in shops.
The research has prompted a call for the removal of cigarette displays in shops, with Quit saying the findings dispel the tobacco industry myth that cigarette displays only exist to help smokers make up their mind on what cigarettes to purchase in store.
Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie, said it was time for the tobacco industry to stop pretending cigarette displays were anything other than advertising aimed to attract new, young smokers and tempt those recently quit by reminding them of smoking every time they visit a store.
"This data shows virtually all smokers know what cigarettes they will buy before going into a shop, so there is absolutely no credibility in tobacco industry arguments that stores must display these deadly products in order to help smokers make up their mind on what brand to purchase."
"The tobacco industry is well aware tobacco displays in shops have little influence over current smokers' brand choice, but are critical for advertising to and attracting new, young smokers and therefore creating new revenue."
Ms Sharkie's comments follow a recent admission from Imperial Tobacco Australia that their own research reveals most smokers purchase the product they already planned to, and have accepted they may not be able to see their preferred product in a shop.
Speaking to the May/April issue of Australian Convenience Store News, Paul Gerza, Brand Manager Peter Stuyvesant, Imperial Tobacco Australia, said:
"Most customers know that their brand may be hidden and that they may need to ask for it. They know to ask if it is not on display. However visibility of premium brands is critical to growth of revenue "
Ms Sharkie said the comments effectively poured cold water on the main reason the tobacco industry cite for the display of cigarettes.
"This is an industry whose primary concern is making money through the recruitment of new younger smokers not, as they would have us believe, providing a choice for those already addicted to their products."
"These comments highlight that putting cigarettes out of sight will limit the tobacco industry's ability to communicate with those young people thinking about starting to smoke and that is a positive considering tobacco will eventually kill at least half of all long-term users."
"Putting cigarettes out of sight in the retail environment has a two-for-one health effect by reducing the number of young people taking up smoking, and by helping those who have quit stay quit."