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Consumer perceptions of cigarette pack design in France: a comparison of regular, limited edition and plain packaging


Background In the face of comprehensive bans on the marketing of tobacco products, packaging has become an increasingly important promotional tool for the tobacco industry. A ban on the use of branding on tobacco packaging, known as ‘plain’ packaging, has emerged as a promising regulatory strategy. The current study sought to examine perceptions of cigarette packaging among adults in France.

Methods Adult smokers and non-smokers (N=836) were surveyed using computer-assisted personal interviewing to assess perceptions of pack design by comparing ‘regular’ branded packs and ‘limited edition’ packs (with novel designs or innovations) with ‘plain’ versions of these packs with all branding, including colour, removed.

Results Plain packs (PP) were less likely than regular packs, and particularly limited edition packs, to be considered attractive, attention grabbing and likely to motivate youth purchase. PPs were also rated as the most effective in convincing non-smokers not to start and smokers to reduce consumption and quit. Logistic regression showed that smokers motivated to quit, in comparison to smokers not motivated to quit, were significantly more likely to consider the PPs as the packs most likely to motivate cessation.

Conclusions Novel cigarette packaging, in the form of limited edition packs, had the highest ratings of consumer appeal, ahead of regular branded packs and also PPs. Interestingly, PPs were perceived to be the packs most likely to promote cessation among those adults with quitting intentions. Plain packaging, therefore, may be a means of helping existing adult smokers motivated to quit to do so.

  • Tobacco packaging and labelling
  • advertising and promotion
  • prevention
  • packaging and labelling
  • social marketing
  • young adults
  • smoking topography
  • population health
  • nicotine reduction in cigarettes
  • tobacco products
  • cessation
  • tobacco industry documents
  • denormalisation
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