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Legislative provisions for standardised tobacco packaging and changes in public support in 27 European countries

Abstract

Background Global adoption of standardised packaging requirements for tobacco products is a victory for public health, but their proliferation and impacts rely partly on public support. How this is related to legislation remains underassessed. This study explored change over time in public support for standardised packaging in countries with varying degrees of legislative provisions.

Methods We used data from 27 European countries, collected from 2017 (n=28, 300) and 2020 (n=27, 901) waves of the Eurobarometer survey, to assess self-reported support for standardised packaging regulations among both smokers and non-smokers. Countries were grouped into three categories of policy adoption (policy implemented; policy legislated; no legislation) and changes in support were assessed using multilevel Poisson regression models.

Results In 2020, public support for standardised packaging was 71% (95% CI 68% to 74%) in countries that implemented standardised packaging legislation, 57% (55% to 60%) in countries that had legislated but not yet implemented legislation and 41% (40%to 42%) in countries with no legislation. Compared with 2017, this represented a relative change of +8% (1% to 15%), +12% (5% to 21%) and −5% (95% CI −2% to −8%), respectively, in the three country categories. Among smokers, there was no indication of change in support across the three groups. Among non-smokers, support increased in countries with existing legislation (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR]=1.14, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.23) and decreased in countries with no legislation (aPR=0.93, 0.90 to 0.97).

Conclusions Public support for standardised packaging regulations increased in countries implementing and legislating for these measures, particularly among non-smokers. An overall increase in support provides reassurance for policymakers defending policy action on tobacco packaging, as well as for those seeking to implement standardised packaging in their own countries. 

  • packaging and labelling
  • public opinion
  • public policy
  • advertising and promotion

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