Introduction The Turkish Government’s ‘National Tobacco Control Program 2015–2018’ included plans to introduce plain packaging and also a ban on brand names on cigarette packs, allowing only assigned numbers on packs. We explored perceptions of these proposed measures, and also pack inserts with cessation messages, another novel way of using the packaging to communicate with consumers.
Methods Eight focus groups were conducted with 47 young adult smokers in Manisa and Kutahya (Turkey) in December 2016. Participants were shown three straight-edged plain cigarette packs, as required in Australia, and then three bevelled-edged plain packs, as permitted in the UK. They were then shown plain packs with numbers rather than brand names, and finally three pack inserts with messages encouraging quitting or offering tips on how to do so. Participants were asked about their perceptions of each.
Results Plain packs were considered unappealing and off-putting, although the bevelled-edged packs were viewed more favourably than the straight-edged packs. Numbered packs were thought by some to diminish the appeal created by the brand name and potentially decrease interest among never smokers and newer smokers. Pack inserts were thought to have less of an impact than the on-pack warnings, but could potentially help discourage initiation and encourage cessation.
Conclusions That bevelled-edged plain packs were perceived more positively than straight-edged plain packs is relevant to countries planning to introduce plain packaging. The study provides a first insight into smokers’ perceptions of a ban on brand names, which was perceived to reduce appeal among young people.
- packaging and labelling
- low/middle–income country
- public policy
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