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Deadly in pink: the impact of cigarette packaging among young women


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.

  • Packaging and labelling
  • public policy

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