Table 4

Recommended pack labelling protocol for studies that place warnings on smokers’ cigarette packs

Protocol stepRationale
1. Schedule appointments weeklyA week is feasible for smokers who would purchase cigarettes for the study, and it limits the number of cigarette packs smokers have on hand
2. Determine cigarette consumptionKnowing how much a smoker typically smokes allows the researcher to instruct the smoker on how many packs to bring to the first and subsequent study visits
3. Ask smokers to purchase and bring cigarettes to study appointmentsAsking smokers to purchase cigarettes on their own can help prevent smokers from thinking that the study is giving smokers ‘free cigarettes.’ Asking them to bring extra packs allows for a buffer against missed appointments or in case they smoke more than expected in a given week
4. Apply labels to smokers’ cigarette packsResearchers label the packs, rather than smokers self-labelling packs, as self-labelling may serve as an active intervention. Also, researchers labelling packs is likely to lead to higher protocol compliance as compared to asking smokers to self-label their packs
5. Provide participation incentives for survey completionCommunicating that study incentives are for survey completion may reduce the possibility that participants will perceive that payments equate to receiving free cigarettes
6. Refer smokers to cessation services at study completionReferral to cessation services may help smokers to quit at the end of the study, if they have not already