Policies regulating retail environment to reduce tobacco availability: A scoping review

Raouf Alebshehy, Zara Asif, Melanie Boeckmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Background: In 2005, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) entered into force. This treaty was developed in response to the global tobacco epidemic, and it includes measures to reduce both demand for and supply of tobacco. The measures related to demand reduction include raising tax, providing cessation services, promoting smoke free public places, banning advertising, and raising awareness. However, there are a limited number of measures for supply reduction, and these mainly include fighting illicit trade, banning sales to minors and providing alternatives to tobacco workers and growers. Unlike regulation of many other goods and services that have been subjected to retail restrictions, there is a lack of resources about restricting tobacco availability through regulation of tobacco retail environment. Considering the potential of retail environment regulations in reducing tobacco supply and consequently reducing tobacco use, this scoping review aims to identify relevant measures. Methods: This review examines interventions, policies, and legislations to regulate tobacco retail environment to reduce tobacco availability. This was done by searching the WHO FCTC and its Conference of Parties decisions, a gray literature search including tobacco control databases, a scoping communication with the Focal Points of the 182 WHO FCTC Parties, and a databases search in PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Global Health, and Web of Science. Results: Themes of policies were identified to reduce tobacco availability by regulating retail environment: four WHO FCTC and twelve non-WHO FCTC policies. The WHO FCTC policies included requiring a license to sell tobacco, banning tobacco sale via vending machines, promoting economically alternative activities to individual sellers, and banning ways of sale that constitute a way of advertising, promotion, and sponsorships. The Non-WHO FCTC policies included banning tobacco home delivery, tray sale, tobacco retail outlets in or within a minimum distance from specific facilities, sale in specific retail outlets, and sale of tobacco or one or more of its products, in addition to restricting tobacco retail outlets per density of population and per geographic area, capping the tobacco amount allowed per purchase, limiting the number of hours or days in which tobacco can be sold, requiring a minimum distance between tobacco retailers, reducing tobacco products availability and proximity within a retail outlet, and restricting sale to government controlled outlets. Discussion and conclusion: Studies show the effects of regulation of the retail environment in influencing overall tobacco purchases, and there is evidence that having fewer retails reduces the level of impulse purchasing of cigarettes and tobacco goods. The measures covered by WHO FCTC are much more implemented than ones not covered by it. Although not all widely implemented, many themes of limiting tobacco availability by regulating tobacco retail environment are available. Further studies to explore such measures and the adoption of the effective ones under the WHO FCTC decisions, could possibly increase their implementation globally to reduce tobacco availability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number975065
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks go to the global tobacco industry watchdog STOP for making this article open access.


  • availability reduction
  • retail regulation
  • supply reduction of tobacco
  • tobacco retail environment
  • tobacco sale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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