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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

Legislative Restrictions on Access to Tobacco. Are We Heading in the Right Direction?

Therese C. Jones, PhD, Public Health, Greater Western Area Health Service/University of Newcastle, 7 Delaware Crescent, BATHURST, Australia

Objective: Comprehensive tobacco control programs have been adopted not only by individual nations including Canada, the US and Australia, but internationally through the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. A key element of tobacco control programs is the focus on youth and a reduction in access to tobacco products through sales to minors programs. In NSW, Australia this is achieved through the enforcement of Section 59 of the Public Health Act 1991. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a reduction in sales is achievable. It has largely been assumed that a reduction in sales equates to a reduction in access to tobacco and therefore smoking prevalence. Is this the case? The research undertaken tested the policy and procedures used to monitor the legislation and the subsequent effect on adolescent smoking prevalence, access patterns and perceived access to tobacco.

Methods: The research was conducted as a randomised controlled trial in fourteen rural towns throughout New South Wales, Australia. The intervention consisted of a tobacco retailer education component along with compliance checks undertaken at baseline, 6 months and post intervention. Pre and post-intervention surveys of school students were undertaken to assess self-reported smoking prevalence, tobacco access patterns and perceptions of ease of access.

Results: A significant reduction in sales of tobacco by retailers was attained (p<0.001). No intervention effect was found on smoking prevalence. Access patterns were affected with students in intervention towns less likely to purchase cigarettes. However, the most common source of cigarettes was from friends.