The Tobacco out of Sight project studies the impact of the tobacco retail environment on smoking behavior of adolescents in the Netherlands. The project evaluates the tobacco product display ban at the point of sale and aims to inform future policies to reduce the availability of tobacco.

A fifth of the Dutch population smoke and 15% of 15-16 year olds. The government’s goal is to reach a smoke-free society by 2040, defined as <5% smokers and 0% among those under 18. If we want to get close to achieving this goal, much stricter tobacco control policies are needed. In the retail environment tobacco has been poorly regulated. All retailers can sell tobacco without need of a license. In 2021 the display ban was implemented which prohibits the open display of tobacco products in shops and tobacco vending machines are prohibited since 2022.

In the Tobacco out of Sight project we mapped the tobacco retail environment in four cities (Amsterdam, Haarlem, Eindhoven and Zwolle), before and after the introduction of the tobacco display ban to understand where tobacco is sold and how visible products and advertising are. Adolescents participated in a survey on smoking-related topics and in measurements of their exposure to the mapped outlets using GPS. We also mapped all outlets in seven rural municipalities after implementation of the display ban.

Some of the key results are summarized in the factsheet below. We found that tobacco is easily accessible in both cities and rural municipalities. The accessibility is greater in poorer neighborhoods, which may exacerbate already large inequalities in smoking. Many outlets are located around schools; in cities, schools had on average 3 tobacco outlets within a 500m radius. Young people in pre-vocational secondary education (vmbo) are more often exposed to tobacco outlets than young people in pre-academic (vwo) education. We also found that adolescents who are more often exposed to outlets find smoking more socially acceptable (when controlled for educational level).

More results from this project are forthcoming, for example on the changes over time in visibility of tobacco in the retail environment and adolescents’ exposure and smoking-related outcomes.

Contact: Mirte Kuipers


Researchers involved

Prof. dr. Bas van den Putte (UvA)