Recent findings from a series of studies have shown that tobacco packaging without labels or branding may deter new smokers and prevent habitual smokers from regular use. The collection of research has been published in the journal Addiction.

Some key findings include:

  • Plain packaging may lower smoking rates in current smokers by reducing the extent to which the package acts as an unconscious trigger for smoking urges.
  • Following Australia’s 2012 policy of plain packaging and larger pictorial health warnings on cigarette and tobacco packs, smoking in outdoor areas of cafes, restaurants, and bars declined, and fewer people made their packs clearly visible on tables.
  • Consumer research by the tobacco industry between 1973–2002 found that variations in packaging shape, size, and opening method could influence brand appeal and risk perceptions and thereby increase cigarette sales.
  • Removing brand imagery from cigarette packets seems to increase visual attention to health warnings in occasional and experimental adolescent smokers, but not among daily adolescent smokers.
  • Standardized packaging could be more effective than larger health warnings in undermining the appeal of cigarette brands and reducing intention to buy cigarettes.

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The data supports the likely evidence that standardized packaging may reduce smoking. Currently, Australia mandates a standardized cigarette packaging. The English government will be voting on regulations of standardized packaging before their general election in May.

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