BACKGROUND: Although most countries now have at least some restrictions on tobacco marketing, the tobacco industry meet these restrictions by re-allocating expenditure to unregulated channels, such as at point-of-purchase.
METHODS: Longitudinal data from 10 Canadian provinces in the International Tobacco Control Survey was analysed to examine adult smokers' support for a ban on tobacco advertising and displays in stores and whether this support is associated with noticing either advertising or displays in stores, and quit intentions, over time. In total, there were 4580 respondents in wave 5 (October 2006 to February 2007), wave 6 (September 2007 to February 2008) and wave 7 (October 2008 to June 2009). The surveys were conducted before, during and in some cases after the implementation of display bans in most Canadian provinces and territories.
RESULTS: Smokers in all provinces showed strong support for a ban on tobacco displays over the study period. Levels of support for an advertising and display ban were comparable between Canadian provinces over time, irrespective of whether they had been banned or not. Noticing tobacco displays and signs in-store was demonstrably less likely to predict support for display (OR=0.73, p=0.005) and advertising (OR=0.78, p=0.02) ban, respectively. Smokers intending to quit were more likely to support advertising and display bans over time.
CONCLUSION: This study serves as a timely reminder that the implementation of tobacco control measures, such as the removal of tobacco displays, appear to sustain support among smokers, those most likely to oppose such measures.