Teens buy less tobacco when hidden

Teens buy less tobacco when hidden

NEW YORK - Reuters
Teens buy less tobacco when hidden

Teens buy less cigarettes if they aren’t sold plian behind counters.

Teens may be less likely to buy cigarettes at convenience stores if they aren’t sold in plain sight behind the counter, according to a U.S. study conducted using a virtual reality game.

“We know the retail environment is a very important place for tobacco companies to advertise and market their products,” said lead author Annice Kim, from the independent research institute RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

“They’re prominently displayed at the point of sale, and it exposes all customers, including kids.” Kim’s team wanted to test the effects of covering up such cigarette displays on teen shopping and opinion, but the researchers couldn’t conduct a real-world experiment because as of yet, no states have banned the displays - although some states are considering it to curb teen smoking.

So they designed a virtual reality game and sent more than 1,200 youth, between age 13 and 17, into a simulated online convenience store.

Researchers asked them to select four items in the store: a snack from the aisles, a drink from the coolers and two products of their choice from heckout counter.