Objectives E-cigarette companies and vendors claim the potential of e-cigarettes to help smokers reduce or quit tobacco use. E-cigarettes also have the potential to renormalise smoking. The purpose of this study was to describe the availability and in-store marketing of e-cigarettes in London, UK stores selling tobacco and alcohol.
Design Observational study.
Setting Small and large stores selling alcohol and tobacco in London, UK.
Primary and secondary outcome measures The number of stores selling e-cigarettes, the number of stores with an interior or exterior e-cigarette advertisement, the number of stores with an e-cigarette point-of-sale movable display, store size, deprivation index score for store's corresponding lower super output area.
Results Audits were completed in 108 of 128 selected stores. 62 of the audited stores (57%) sold e-cigarettes. E-cigarette availability was unrelated to store size. There was a statistically non-significant trend towards increased availability in more deprived areas (p=0.069). 31 of the 62 stores (50%) selling e-cigarettes had a point-of-sale movable display, with all but one found in small stores. Two small stores had interior advertisements and eight had exterior advertisements. No advertisements were observed in large stores.
Conclusions This audit revealed widespread availability of e-cigarettes and in-store marketing in London, UK. Even if e-cigarettes prove to be an effective cessation aid, their sale and use are resulting in an increasing public presence of cigarette-like images and smoking behaviour. After decades of work to denormalise smoking, these findings raise the question of whether e-cigarettes are renormalising smoking.
- electronic cigarette
- point-of-sale marketing
- store audits
- tobacco industry
- tobacco control policy
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