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The impact of structural packaging design on young adult smokers' perceptions of tobacco products
  1. Ron Borland1,
  2. Steven Savvas1,
  3. Fiona Sharkie1,
  4. Karen Moore2
  1. 1VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, The Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ron Borland, VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Melbourne, VIC 3053, Australia; ron.borland{at}


Objectives To examine the extent that novel cigarette pack shapes and openings have on smokers' perceptions of those packs and the cigarettes contained within.

Method Using a web-based survey, 160 young adult ever-smokers (18–29 years) were shown computer images of plain packaged cigarette packs in five different shapes. This was followed by packs illustrating five different methods of opening. Brand (prestige or budget) and size of the health warnings (30% or 70% warning size) were between-subject conditions. Respondents ranked packs on attractiveness, perceived quality of the cigarettes contained within and extent that the pack distracted from health warnings.

Results Ratings of attractiveness and perceived quality were significantly associated in both substudies, but tendency to distract from warnings was more independent. Significant differences were found between the pack shapes on attractiveness, perceived quality and distraction from warnings. Standard, 2×10 and 4×5 packs were ranked less attractive than Bevelled and Rounded packs. 2×10 and 4×5 packs were also perceived as lower quality than Bevelled and Rounded packs. The Standard pack was less distracting to health warnings than all other shapes except the 2×10 pack. Pack openings were perceived as different on quality of cigarettes contained and extent of distraction to warnings. The Standard Flip-top was rated significantly lower in distracting from warnings than all other openings.

Conclusions Pack shape and pack opening affect ever-smokers' perceptions of the packs and the cigarettes they contain. This means that they have the potential to create appeal and differentiate products and thus should be regulated.

  • Tobacco
  • plain packaging
  • branding
  • structural design
  • public policy
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • cessation
  • packaging and labelling
  • endgame
  • addiction

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  • Funding This study was funded by the Quit Victoria and the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, Cancer Council Victoria.

  • Competing interests RB is a member of a Technical Advisory Committee advising the Australian Department of Health and Ageing on various aspects of the implementation of the plain packaging legislation. He did not use any information he may have gained on that Committee in making decisions on the form of the study, and this study was designed and implemented completely independent of that Committee.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Research Review Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.