Cigarette smoking among kids has continued to fall and since, as we have long noted, "smoking is a pediatric disease". if people don't take it up as children they likely never will. That will pay public health dividends. But with a problem about to be eliminated so is hundreds of billions of dollars that have been given to anti-smoking advocates, and many of them are scrambling to justify why their funding should continue.

Politicians say higher taxes are the reason, science and health groups like ours note it's greater education and the availability of smoking cessation tools chosen by the public and not regulators, while marketing scholars say control over display ads gets credit, in an 'out of sight, out of mind' way. No one can really be shown wrong because the endpoint is there. 

In the UK, marketing scholars say a ban on the open display of tobacco products reduced cigarette brand awareness. Without awareness, they say, cigarettes seem unappealing; and that means smoking is less acceptable. In the US, minors can't buy cigarettes at all, it is a jail sentence if a retailer does it, so marketing control is less effective than health education about the perils of inhaling hundreds of toxic chemicals. But whatever works, and in Tobacco Control a team take a victory lap for advertising by noting that banning it helped make smoking uncool.

In the UK, between 2012 and 2015. tobacco products were put out of sight, which is a long enough period to know what impacts it has had. Using data from The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey, which canvassed the views of 3,791 young people (including 2,953 who had never smoked) in 2011, prior to the implementation of the ban, in 2014, when the ban was not yet in place across small stores, and in 2016, following full implementation. At each stage, participants were asked whether they noticed cigarettes displayed at point-of-sale; about their awareness of cigarette brands; and about their smoking susceptibility - established by the absence of a firm decision not to smoke. Each person was also asked about their support for the display ban, and whether it made cigarettes seem unappealing and smoking unacceptable.

Smoking susceptibility among never smokers decreased from 28 percent pre-ban to 23 percent mid-ban, and 18 percent post-ban. Noticing cigarettes at point-of-sale decreased from 81 percent pre-ban, to 28 percent post-ban; and cigarette brand awareness also reduced, with the average number of cigarette brands recalled declining from 0.97 pre-ban to 0.69 post-ban.

Among young never smokers' support for a display ban was very high. Post-ban, 90 percent of never smokers aged 11 to 16 years supported the display ban, while 77 percent indicated that it made cigarettes seem unappealing, and 87 percent that it made smoking seem unacceptable.