Background This study sought to examine the impact of cigarette packaging on young women, including the impact of ‘plain’ packaging.
Methods Participants were randomised to view eight cigarette packs designed according to one of four experimental conditions: fully-branded female brands; the same brands without descriptors (eg, ‘slims’); the same brands without brand imagery or descriptors (ie, ‘plain’ packs); and fully branded non-female brands as a control condition. Participants rated packs on perceived appeal, taste, tar, health risks and smoker ‘traits’.
Results Fully-branded female packs were rated as significantly more appealing than ‘no descriptor’ packs, ‘plain’ packs and non-female branded packs. Female branded packs were associated with a greater number of positive attributes including glamour, slimness and attractiveness, compared to brands without descriptors and ‘plain’ packs. Women who viewed plain packs were less likely to believe that smoking helps people control their appetite—an important predictor of smoking among young women—compared to women who viewed branded female packs.
Conclusions ‘Plain’ packaging—removing colours and design elements—and removing descriptors such as ‘slims’ from packs may reduce brand appeal and thereby susceptibility to smoking among young women.
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Funding Financial support for this project was provided by an Ontario Tobacco Research Unit Ashley Studentship for Research in Tobacco Control, a Canadian Institute for Health Research Strategic Training Program in Tobacco Research Fellowship, a Canadian Tobacco Control Research Initiative Student Research Grant, and the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact with funds from the Canadian Cancer Society.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Waterloo.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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