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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 Medwire news 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.

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