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Use and abuse of statistics in tobacco industry-funded research on standardised packaging
  1. Anthony A Laverty1,
  2. Pascal Diethelm2,
  3. Nicholas S Hopkinson3,
  4. Hilary C Watt1,
  5. Martin McKee4
  1. 1Department of Primary Care & Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2OxyRomandie, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College, London, UK
  4. 4London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anthony A Laverty, Department of Primary Care & Public Health, Imperial College London, Room 322, Reynolds Building, St Dunstan's Road, London W6 8RP, UK; a.laverty{at}


In this commentary we consider the validity of tobacco industry-funded research on the effects of standardised packaging in Australia. As the first country to introduce standardised packs, Australia is closely watched, and Philip Morris International has recently funded two studies into the impact of the measure on smoking prevalence. Both of these papers are flawed in conception as well as design but have nonetheless been widely publicised as cautionary tales against standardised pack legislation. Specifically, we focus on the low statistical significance of the analytical methods used and the assumption that standardised packaging should have an immediate large impact on smoking prevalence.

  • Tobacco industry
  • public policy
  • packaging and labelling

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