Objective: To explore young adult smokers’ construction of meaning and identity in accounts of cigarette brands and cigarette package design, and the processes by which positive associations with a brand may be reinforced and sustained.
Methods: Qualitative in-depth interviews with 21 smokers aged 18–23 in Norway, where advertising for tobacco has been banned since 1975.
Results: Cigarette brand and cigarette package design appear as an integrated part of young smokers’ constructions of smoker identities, enabling the communication of personal characteristics, social identity and positions in hierarchies of status.
Conclusion: Through branding and package design tobacco companies appear to be able to promote their products in a country where advertising is banned, by means of similar principles that make advertising effective: by creating preferences, differentiation and identification.
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Funding: This study was funded by the Norwegian Research Council.
Competing interests: None declared.