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Acute perceptions of preferred cigarettes when blinded to brand
  1. Kenneth A Perkins,
  2. Joshua L Karelitz
  1. Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr. Kenneth A Perkins, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA; perkinska{at}


Background Marketing claims often have promoted specific perceptions that users should expect from acutely smoking that cigarette brand. Yet, little controlled study has determined the degree to which actual perceptions are based on the cigarette’s tobacco constituents in the absence of knowledge about the brand’s identity.

Methods 194 adult dependent smokers rated their perceptions on ‘liking’, ‘satisfying’, ‘strong’ and perceived amount of ‘nicotine’ after smoking ad lib one of their preferred brands of cigarettes. All did so either when blinded (n=118) or unblinded (n=76) to the brand they were given, with the blinding conditions from separate studies. These between-groups secondary analyses determined differences in perceptions based on blinding to brand, controlling for age and cigarettes/day.

Results All perceptions were lower for those smoking own brand under blinded versus unblinded conditions, as hypothesised. Consistent with lowered perceptions for smoking one’s own brand obtained from the 118 blinded to brand, their ‘somewhat’ ratings for a ‘how similar to own brand’ item indicated uncertainty, just mid-way between ‘not at all’ and ‘very much’ on the 0–100 visual analogue scale. (The 76 unblinded were already informed it was their own brand.)

Conclusions Acute perceptions of one’s own cigarette are substantially lower when smokers are simply unaware of brand, relative to those aware it is their preferred brand. Results support the notion that perceptions of smoking own brand are enhanced by marketing efforts to associate brands with expectations of pleasurable subjective effects, beyond the impact due solely to the cigarette’s manufactured product constituents.

  • advertising and promotion
  • packaging and labelling
  • social marketing
  • tobacco industry

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  • Contributors KAP conceptualised and designed these studies and obtained research funding. JLK was responsible for overseeing the data collection and data analysis reported in this paper. Both authors contributed to the interpretation of the findings, contributed to writing the paper and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research was supported by grants from the US National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS, UH3 TR000958) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA, R01 DA019478; R01 DA035774).

  • Disclaimer The funders had no role in the design, analysis, preparation or decision to publish the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board.

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