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Reactions to, and trial intentions for, three dissuasive cigarette designs: a cross-sectional survey of adolescents in Scotland


Objectives There has been growing academic and policy interest in opportunities to decrease the appeal of cigarette sticks, such as making them an unattractive colour or requiring them to display a health warning. We therefore explored reactions to, and trial intentions for, three ‘dissuasive’ cigarette designs among adolescents in Scotland.

Methods A cross-sectional survey with 12–17 year olds in Scotland (n=594) was conducted between November 2017 and November 2018. Participants were shown one ‘standard’ cigarette (imitation cork filter with white paper casing) and three dissuasive cigarettes: (1) a cigarette with the warning ‘smoking kills’; (2) a cigarette with the warning ‘toxic’ and a skull and cross-bones image and (3) a dark green cigarette. Participants rated each cigarette on nine five-point reaction measures (eg, appealing/unappealing or attractive/unattractive). A composite reaction score was computed for each cigarette, which was binary coded (overall negative reactions vs neutral/positive reactions). Participants also indicated whether they would try each cigarette (coded: Yes/No). Demographics, smoking status and smoking susceptibility were also measured.

Results More participants had negative reactions to the dark green (93% of adolescents), ‘smoking kills’ (94%) and ‘toxic’ (96%) cigarettes, compared with the standard cigarette (85%). For all three dissuasive designs, Chi-square tests found that negative reactions were more likely among younger adolescents (vs older adolescents), never-smokers (vs ever smokers) and non-susceptible never-smokers (vs susceptible never-smokers). Most participants indicated that they would not try any of the cigarettes (range: 84%–91%).

Conclusion Dissuasive cigarettes present an opportunity to further reduce the appeal of smoking among adolescents.

  • packaging and labelling
  • prevention
  • social marketing

Data availability statement

The data is part of a PhD thesis that has not yet been submitted. Data will be available up on reasonable request from the corresponding author.

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