Tob Control 19:398-402 doi:10.1136/tc.2009.033217
  • Research paper

Divergence between strength indicators in packaging and cigarette engineering: a case study of Marlboro varieties in Australia and the USA

  1. Richard J O'Connor3
  1. 1The Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  3. 3Roswell Park Cancer Institute, USA
  1. Correspondence to Bill King, The Cancer Council Victoria, 100 Drummond Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia; bill.king{at}
  1. Contributors SA-S and GP conducted the laboratory testing. CW conducted the statistical analyses. All of the authors helped to design the study and write the manuscript.

  • Received 20 August 2009
  • Accepted 19 March 2010
  • Published Online First 7 June 2010


Objectives To investigate how the tobacco industry is adapting to regulatory action in accordance with provisions of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that targets misleading packaging and labelling. To relate the packaging and labelling of new cigarette varieties to their construction and performance.

Methods The principal design features and tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields of the Marlboro ‘brand family’ in Australia were measured and compared with those of the US equivalents.

Results Marlboro Red and Blue/Medium, could not be differentiated in preliminary tests in Australia, but were different in the USA. However, yield testing showed Marlboro Blue/Medium did not have lower tar and nicotine yields in either country, indeed being higher in Australia.

Conclusions Colour can be used to market cigarettes as ‘milder’, independently of ISO yields and ‘Light’/’Mild’ descriptors. Banning of ‘Light’ and ‘Mild’ brand descriptors may be inadequate to end belief in less harmful cigarettes so long as the tobacco industry remains free to engineer ‘mildness’ and to use colours, other descriptors and design features to characterise varieties it wants to market as ‘milder’.


  • Funding Roswell Park Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (P50 CA111236) and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (450110). None of the sponsors had any role in the design and conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, and approval of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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