Issue 7: Nov 2013

STUBBING IT OUT: HOW CAN THIS BE MEASURED?

By Carolyn Black, Senior Research Executive, Ipsos Mori (Scotland)

The Scottish Government has high ambitions when it comes to its tobacco control strategy. Its target is to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034, with fewer than 5% of the adult population smoking and to help achieve this ambition a range of measures are being introduced over the next five years, aimed primarily at ensuring young people don’t pick up the habit. The government want to use the best means available in ‘Creating a Tobacco-free Generation’.

what does research among young people on these issues tell us about how successful this approach is likely to be?

These measures include legislation for standardised tobacco packaging, which has been discussed in several of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Surveys, but also go much wider. For example, the Scottish Government has recently introduced a ban on tobacco vending machines and the display of tobacco and smoking-related products in large shops (of over 280 sq. metres) and has plans for the tobacco displays ban to be extended to smaller shops by April 2015.

The main driver of the strategy is to reduce the attractiveness of smoking to young people. But what does research among young people on these issues tell us about how successful this approach is likely to be?

The main way of capturing young people’s attitudes to, and experience of, smoking and tobacco is through the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS). Ipsos MORI has conducted the last two waves of SALSUS (2008, 2010) and will run the survey again in the autumn of 2013.

Most of the changes outlined above have an effect at the point of sale. This raises the questions of what are the current purchasing behaviours of young people and what changes might we expect as a result of the legislation?

Ultimately, it is the number of young people who are regular smokers that will determine the success or failure of the new tobacco control strategy.

Although it’s illegal for a 15 year old to buy cigarettes/tobacco, the most common source in 2010 was a newsagent, tobacconist or sweet shop (46%). Buying from other retail outlets such as food vans (15%), supermarkets (13%), garages (13%) and machines (6%) was much less common (see Figure 1).

So, while larger shops (i.e. supermarkets) are currently required to implement the tobacco display ban, the evidence suggests that this is not generally where young people purchase cigarettes and tobacco. Therefore it is unlikely that we will see any great impact from this legislation in the 2013 wave of SALSUS. However, the 2015 wave may be more illuminating, once the ban is extended to smaller retailers. And while the ban on machines should eradicate these as a source of buying tobacco, this represents a relatively small proportion of purchasing so is unlikely to have a significant impact overall.

Figure 1: Usual sources of cigarettes/tobacco - 15 year old, regular smokers

Base: 15 year old regular smokers (2,268)                Source: SALSUS 2010

The new, and proposed, legislation may have an impact on young people who buy cigarettes and tobacco directly from the retailer, but it remains to be seen whether changes to tobacco displays will have an impact on young people who obtain cigarettes through other common methods such as being given them by friends. It could be argued that simply living in an environment where cigarettes and tobacco are much less visible, will lead to a reduction in any type of purchasing behaviour. However, it could also be the case that these alternative methods of obtaining cigarettes remain unaffected by the display ban.

Therefore another useful measure of the impact may be the acceptability of trying cigarettes and tobacco to see what it is like. In 2006, 68% of 15 year olds thought that it was ‘OK’ to try smoking. This decreased to 64% in 2008 but then remained static in 2010 (63%).  While this is not the same as actually trying, or taking up, smoking it is still a high proportion of pupils for whom smoking is acceptable. However, with the tobacco control measures that have been implemented since 2010 (the last wave of SALSUS), it is likely that this proportion will have decreased in the 2013 wave.

Ultimately, it is the number of young people who are regular smokers that will determine the success or failure of the new tobacco control strategy. The 2013 wave of SALSUS is probably too soon to register any significant impact from the display ban so the 2015 wave will be eagerly anticipated. However, in the meantime, monitoring the acceptability of smoking may give some indication of the change in attitudes towards smoking, and whether it is attractive to young people.

Carolyn Black is a Senior Research Executive with Ipsos Mori (Scotland)

 


[1] Regular smokers – defined as usually smoking at least one cigarette a week

By Carolyn Black, Senior Research Executive, Ipsos Mori (Scotland)

Issue 7: Nov 2013

Issue 7: Nov 2013

HEALTH, WELL BEING AND AGEING: SCOTLAND 2020

Re-energising the move towards integrated care

Scotland's move to integrated care can learn from elsewhere by focussing on two key differentiators between successful partnerships and those paying lip service to integrated working: Shared outcomes and common language is one, the other is demonstrating mutual investments and mutual benefits.

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