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Identifying tobacco retailers in the absence of a licensing system: Lessons from australia

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posted on 2021-03-25, 23:45 authored by John BakerJohn Baker, Mohd MasoodMohd Masood, Muhammad RahmanMuhammad Rahman, L Thornton, Stephen BeggStephen Begg

Objectives: To estimate the proportion of retailers that sell tobacco in the absence of appropriate local government oversight, and to describe the characteristics by which they differ from those that can expect to receive such oversight. Methods: A database of listed tobacco retailers was obtained from a regional Victorian local government. Potential unlisted tobacco retailers were added using online searches, and attempts to visit all retailers were undertaken. GPS coordinates and sales type information of retailers that sold tobacco were recorded and attached to neighbourhood-level data on socioeconomic disadvantage and smoking prevalence using ArcMap. Logistic regression analyses, χ2 tests and t-tests were undertaken to explore differences in numbers of listed and unlisted retailers by business and neighbourhood-level characteristics. Results: Of 125 confirmed tobacco retailers, 43.2% were trading potentially without government oversight. Significant differences were found between listed and unlisted retailers by primary business type (p<0.001), and sales type (p<0.001) but not by the other characteristics. Conclusions: The database of tobacco retailers was inaccurate in two ways: (1) a number of listed retailers no longer operated or sold tobacco, and (2) 43.2% of businesses confirmed as selling tobacco were missing. As no form of licensing system exists in Victoria, it is difficult to identify the number of retailers operating, or to determine how many receive formal regulatory oversight. A positive licensing system is recommended to regulate the sale of tobacco and to generate a comprehensive database of retailers, similar to that which exists for food registration, gaming and liquor-licensed premises.


La Trobe University provided the primary researcher with a scholarship, professional supervision, assistance with the design of the study, data analysis and interpretation, access to resources such as a computer and printing equipment, library resources and other expertise. This research was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. This research was also supported by a La Trobe Rural Health School Graduate Research Support grant.


Publication Date



Tobacco Control




6p. (p.543-548)





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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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