Anti-smoking advocates say that they have research showing that teenagers’ attempts to purchase tobacco products can be reduced if retailers would keep cigarette packages out of sight.
Researchers at RTI International used virtual reality to simulate a convenience store shopping experience. More than 1,200 teenagers were allowed to explore simulated stores and asked to select four items from their shelves for purchase, Reuters noted.
In simulated convenience stores where cigarettes were displayed openly, between 16% and 24% of teens attempted to purchase cigarettes. In simulated stores where cigarettes were concealed, between 9% and 11% attempted to purchase them.
In all cases, the simulated store clerks denied requests from teenagers to purchase cigarettes.
The study noted that only 32% of teenagers said that they knew cigarettes were available in stores with concealed displays, compared to 85% of teenagers who explored simulated stores with open displays.
One of the study’s researchers said they simulated store experiment demonstrated the importance of point of sales displays in encouraging cigarette sales.
No states currently ban open displays of cigarettes in stores, though all states restrict their sale to minors.