Plain cigarette packs not a problem for small shops

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Putting all cigarettes in packs of uniform colour, size and design has not caused sales staff any problems in serving customers according to new research. Researchers examining the impact of plain, standardised tobacco packaging studied how long it took shop assistants to identify and retrieve cigarettes in small shops across Australia – twice before the rollout of standardised packaging in December 2012, and twice after.

The study contradicts research from the tobacco industry which claimed it would take longer to serve standard packs of cigarettes, confuse shop keepers, cause queues and disrupt shops.

Directly after the introduction of the new packaging, there was an average increase in the serving time of two to three seconds to around 12.5 seconds compared to the earlier two samples.

Retailers quickly adapted to standard packaging and the transaction time returned to normal levels during the second week of implementation and remained there several months later. The average time to serve tobacco at the end of the study in February was 10.37 seconds.

Researchers visited 303 small shops selling tobacco from four different cities. They recorded the time it took from requesting a specific pack to when the pack was scanned or placed on the counter.

The study was supported by Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Australia, Cancer Council South Australia, Cancer Council Victoria, Cancer Research UK, Fresh, Smokefree Southwest, Tobacco Free Futures and Action on Smoking and Health (UK).

Professor Melanie Wakefield, lead author and director of the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, said: “Groups with tobacco industry funding had argued that plain tobacco packaging would make it difficult for small retailers to identify different cigarettes.

Source: Cancer Research UK, UK

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