Evidence piles up in favor of plain cigarette packs

By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter

A study conducted in Brazil provides further evidence that plain cigarette packaging reduces the appeal of cigarettes.

While Australia has recently passed legislation to ban logos from cigarette packages and make plain packaging mandatory, other countries are still considering whether to take this route, say the researchers in BMC Public Health.

Study co-author Christine White (University of Waterloo, Canada) commented in a press statement: "Our results suggest that plain packaging and the removal of brand descriptors are likely to reduce the appeal of smoking for youth and young adults.

"Overall, these findings support the recommendations for plain packaging in the [World Health Organization] WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control."

An online survey by David Hammond and team, from the University of Waterloo, of 640 Brazilian smoking and nonsmoking women aged 16-26 years showed that the highest appeal ratings were given for branded cigarette packs.

Indeed, regular branded cigarette packs were given a mean appeal rating of 6.0 out of 10.0 compared with plain cigarette packs labeled with the name and description of the cigarette brand at 4.3, and plain packs that contained no description, at 3.4.

The branded packs had a significantly higher taste rating at a mean score of 4.9, compared with plain packs at 3.9 and plain no-descriptor packs at 2.3. Branded packs also had a higher smoothness rating, at a mean score of 4.1 compared with plain packs, at 3.1, and plain no-descriptor packs, at 1.6.

Linear regression analysis was performed by combining five smoker image traits: female, stylish, popular, sophisticated, and slim; into a single smoker image index where higher scores indicated more positive traits. Branded packs had a higher positive trait score, at 3.84, than their plain counterparts, at 3.22, and plain no-descriptor packs, at 2.67.

At the end of the survey, the participants were asked whether they would prefer being given a branded cigarette pack or a plain pack as a free gift; 39.6% chose a branded pack while only 12.5% chose a plain pack.

"The women in this study rated branded packs as more appealing, more stylish, and sophisticated than the plain packs," commented Hammond in a press statement. "They also thought that cigarettes in branded packs would be better tasting and smoother."

"Removal of all description from the packs, leaving only the brand, further reduced their appeal. In the pack offer test, participants were three times more likely to choose the branded pack as a free gift."

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.


  1. Robert Robert United Kingdom says:

    So a study is asking a random selection  questions about the appeal of the packaging.

    I note the absence of the most obvious question. WOULD THIS STOP YOU SMOKING. That really is why this proves absolutely nothing.

    • Kate Kate United Kingdom says:

      This initiative is not about stopping existing smokers.  It is about discouraging young people from starting in the first place.  Therefore the question "would this make you stop" is irrelevant.  Teenagers mostly start to look cool and this is strongly associated with the packaging and therefore image of the brand.  If you remove the branding, cigarettes are just in a brown box.

      This is the real reason the tobacco industry are so terrified of this legislation. They constantly need to replace the customers who die with new ones, preferably young who get drawn into a lifetime of addiction.  If young people don't take up smoking their customer base will eventually disappear. It won't come a moment too soon.

  2. Kevin Elliott Kevin Elliott United Kingdom says:

    Plain packs will reduce the profits of tobacco companies. That will mean less money available to market cigarettes to children, less money to campaign to reverse smoking bans, less money for general lobbying.

    It's children's health versus tobacco industry shareholder profits. Which is more important to you?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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