In the wake of the finding that tobacco displays in Woolworths supermarkets were highly visible to children from both inside and outside the shops, lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has had a word with the British company's executives.
The group's executive Anne Jones said that the way tobacco products had been displayed was contrary to the company's claims that the store was socially responsible. "Woolworths supermarkets are among the worst offenders for placing tobacco displays in prominent front-of-shop positions near other items that attract young people," news.com.au quoted her as saying.
"This is a lethal, addictive product which kills 15,000 Australians each year. Why is it displayed centre stage in a family store?" she added. During the study, 500 shops were surveyed. The surveyors found that 87 per cent of the shops, including many Woolworths supermarkets, were displaying tobacco products in close proximity to confectionery, toys and novelty supplies that attracted children.
The survey also revealed that several stores had tobacco displays at children's eye level. "This is grooming children to be the next generation of smokers," Jones said. "In the words of the tobacco industry, their aim is to encourage trial purchase and repurchase. And the industry also knows most smokers start as children when they're illegally supplied these addictive products," she added.
She insisted that the company should comply with the legislation that requires tobacco to be out of sight of children in all retail outlets. "Coles in Tasmania have already made all displays out of sight, but Woolworths seems to be waiting for government to make the first move and introduce legislation," Jones said.
"They should be taking leadership," she added.