Assessment of IQOS Marketing Strategies at Points-of-Sale in Israel at a Time of Regulatory Transition

Yael Bar-Zeev, Carla J. Berg, Lorien C. Abroms, Maya Rodnay, Daniel Elbaz, Amal Khayat, Hagai Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: IQOS, a tobacco heating system, and accompanying tobacco sticks (HEETS) entered the Israeli market in 2016, prior to rapid regulatory change. This study assessed IQOS marketing strategies and regulatory compliance at IQOS and/or HEETS point-of-sale (POS) in Israel in December 17, 2019 to January 7, 2020, after the ban on advertisement went into effect in March 8, 2019. Aims and Methods: Research staff audited 80 randomly selected IQOS and/or HEETS POS in four cities using a structured form to assess store types, product placement, price, promotional strategies, and regulatory compliance. POS data were linked to neighborhood characteristics, including socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and proximity (under 300 m) to schools. Results: Almost half of the stores (48.7%) were convenience stores. HEETS were visible to the customers in 46.1% of POS, 35% carried at least four HEETS colors, 20.0% had IQOS and/or HEETS special displays, and 13.8% displayed HEETS near youth-oriented merchandise. Mean HEETS pack price was US $8.7 (range: US $7.5-11.3), 27% more than the least expensive cigarette pack, and 39% less than the most expensive cigarette. HEETS promotions were uncommon. Compliance with the newly introduced advertisement ban was fairly high for HEETS (94.8%). Only one POS was located in a low-socioeconomic status area; 68.7% were near a school. Conclusions: The relatively limited IQOS and/or HEETS marketing at POS suggests that, with regulatory changes, online or other forms of marketing might be prioritized. IQOS may be promoted to higher socioeconomic status populations, as indicated by pricing and POS neighborhood characteristics. Access near schools and placement near youth-oriented merchandise are potential concerns necessitating further research. Implications: Globally, the POS is considered the least regulated channel for advertising and marketing of tobacco products. Assessing IQOS marketing strategies at the POS provides valuable findings that can inform regulatory efforts in Israel and other countries as well. Limited IQOS and/or HEETS marketing at POS suggests that primary marketing strategies may shift to online or other channels as regulatory contexts become more progressive and/or restrictive. Ongoing surveillance of IQOS via online marketing and POSs, specifically with regard to product placement and proximity to schools, is needed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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