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Cigarette package colour is associated with level of filter ventilation
  1. Richard J O’Connor1,
  2. David Hammond2
  1. 1Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA
  2. 2School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Richard J O’Connor, Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo 14226, New York, USA; richard.o'connor{at}roswellpark.org

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The cigarette package is, in many markets, the primary means of marketing and advertising cigarette brands to consumers. While some countries have moved to implement plain packaging, most continue to allow product differentiation on the basis of packaging. Colour is often used to communicate implicit messages about taste, risk and quality, and evidence suggests that package colours are specifically chosen to manipulate consumer perceptions through ‘sensation transference’.1 Filter ventilation also has been shown to influence perceptions of harshness and perceived risk.2 3 Filter ventilation is also closely associated with machine-measured tar yield and is generally higher in brands previously marketed as ‘Light’. Light and similar words have in many cases been supplanted by colours or other descriptive terms.4 Bans appear to have had an effect in reducing false beliefs, but substantial levels of false beliefs persist, most likely due to other cues that remained, including replacement descriptors, colour-coded packs and filter ventilation.5 6 Using a large database of packages, we explored the extent to which package colour is related to filter ventilation.

Data for 759 brands purchased …

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