The researchers asked 4,580 smokers across 10 Canadian provinces about their thoughts before and after the country phased in a ban between 2004 and 2010.
Similar legislation will be phased in across England and Wales between 2012 and 2015.
Previous research has shown that the tobacco industry has reacted to marketing restrictions by diverting money to so-called point-of-purchase (POP) marketing – adverts and displays of products on, behind and above the service counter.
But smokers across Canada strongly supported the ban. Levels of support were similar across all the areas studied, regardless of whether tobacco displays had been introduced at the time of the study.
Smokers planning to give up were more likely to support ad and display bans. However, smokers who said they had recently noticed displays in shops were less supportive of the ban. The researchers suggest this suggests that’s visual cues’s supplied by such advertising has the effect of weakening support.
Lead researcher Dr Abraham Brown, based at Stirling University, said the research was encouraging for the UK, and that smokers wanting to quit were more likely to support POP display bans over time.
“This does suggest that when similar regulations are rolled out across the UK, support from the UK population will also be high, especially among smokers,” he said.
Robin Hewings, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco control manager, said: “Now that the UK has pledged to put tobacco out of sight over the next few years, it’s reassuring to see the positive response from other countries who have done the same thing.
“Smokers wanting to quit strongly supported keeping tobacco out of sight, as did the general public. We’re confident that after tobacco displays are removed in the UK, the public here will continue to support our efforts to protect children from tobacco marketing which will help prevent the next generation from starting to smoke.”