Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Divergence between strength indicators in packaging and cigarette engineering: a case study of Marlboro varieties in Australia and the USA
  1. Bill King1,
  2. Ron Borland1,
  3. Shadeed Abdul-Salaam2,
  4. Gregory Polzin2,
  5. David Ashley2,
  6. Clifford Watson2,
  7. Richard J O'Connor3
  1. 1The Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  3. 3Roswell Park Cancer Institute, USA
  1. Correspondence to Bill King, The Cancer Council Victoria, 100 Drummond Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia; bill.king{at}


Objectives To investigate how the tobacco industry is adapting to regulatory action in accordance with provisions of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that targets misleading packaging and labelling. To relate the packaging and labelling of new cigarette varieties to their construction and performance.

Methods The principal design features and tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields of the Marlboro ‘brand family’ in Australia were measured and compared with those of the US equivalents.

Results Marlboro Red and Blue/Medium, could not be differentiated in preliminary tests in Australia, but were different in the USA. However, yield testing showed Marlboro Blue/Medium did not have lower tar and nicotine yields in either country, indeed being higher in Australia.

Conclusions Colour can be used to market cigarettes as ‘milder’, independently of ISO yields and ‘Light’/‘Mild’ descriptors. Banning of ‘Light’ and ‘Mild’ brand descriptors may be inadequate to end belief in less harmful cigarettes so long as the tobacco industry remains free to engineer ‘mildness’ and to use colours, other descriptors and design features to characterise varieties it wants to market as ‘milder’.

  • Packaging and labelling
  • tobacco products

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding Roswell Park Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (P50 CA111236) and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (450110). None of the sponsors had any role in the design and conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, and approval of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None.

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