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Impact of the removal of light and mild descriptors from cigarette packages in Ontario, Canada: switching to “light replacement” brand variants



This study assessed cessation and brand switching among smokers in Ontario, Canada after tobacco companies’ voluntary removal of ‘light’ and ‘mild’ descriptors from cigarette packages.


We analyzed longitudinal data on brand preference and cessation from a cohort of smokers (n=632) in the Ontario Tobacco Survey in Canada from 2006 to 2008 with a longitudinal regression model.


While cessation differed by brand variant prior to the ban (7% light vs. 3% regular; P<0.05), it did not differ by brand variant after the ban was implemented. In 2008, when light cigarette brand variants were no longer available, 33% of the sample still reported smoking lights and 31% smoked light replacement brand variants. During each subsequent follow-up, light brand smokers had 2 times the odds of smoking regular brand variants (Adjusted OR: 2.03, 95% CI 1.80,2.29), and almost 5 times the odds of using light replacement brand variants (Adjusted OR: 4.87, 95% CI 4.07,5.84), respectively, compared to continuing to smoke lights.


Even after removing misleading descriptors from cigarette packs, smokers continued to report using light brand variants, and many switched to newly introduced light replacement brand variants. After full implementation of the ban, cessation did not vary by brand variant.

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