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Teens may buy less tobacco when displays are hidden: Study

Published on Dec 4, 2012 9:29 AM

(REUTERS) - Teens may be less likely to buy cigarettes at convenience stores if they aren't sold in plain sight behind the counter, according to a United States (US) study conducted using a virtual reality game.

"We know the retail environment is a very important place for tobacco companies to advertise and market their products,"said lead author Annice Kim, from the independent research institute RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

"They're prominently displayed at the point of sale, and it exposes all customers, including kids." Ms Kim's team wanted to test the effects of covering up such cigarette displays on teen shopping and opinion, but the researchers couldn't conduct a real-world experiment because as of yet, no states have banned the displays - although some states are considering it to curb teen smoking.

So they designed a virtual reality game and sent more than 1,200 youth, between age 13 and 17, into a simulated online convenience store.

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