How does cigarette packaging influence behaviour in young adults?

According to a pilot study recently published in the British Medical Journal, plain packaging could potentially help reduce tobacco consumption – especially in women!  A group of 140 smokers age 18-35 were given “plain” packages for 2 weeks and their “regular” packs for 2 weeks.  The 48 people who correctly completed the study filled out questionnaires about their feelings, perceptions, health warnings and behaviours, and a smaller group was interviewed to explore these topics further.

Although the sample size is relatively small, the study showed that compared to brand packaging, plain packaging led to more negative feelings about the pack and smoking itself.  Also, individuals who had plain packaging were more likely to show “avoidant behaviours” such as hiding the pack or smoking less around others.  Almost half of those interviewed (mostly women) reported that the plain packaging had either reduced their smoking or led to more “avoidant behaviour”.

Even though this is just one study, it is pretty interesting to think about the potential impact that product packaging can have on our health.

Australia is ahead of the game by announcing that all cigarettes sold from July 2012 will have plain packaging with no brand design elements and the brand name in a standard font and location.1,2    Way to go, Australia!


So the next time you buy a chocolate bar, a drink or any other packaged product, I encourage you to think critically about your decision.   Did you plan ahead to buy this product or was it impulsive?  Did you like the colours on the packaging?  The shape?  Font?  Imagine a similar situation involving an individual who may be trying to quit smoking, or with someone who has never tried smoking before.  It becomes pretty easy to see how changing cigarette packaging can change lives.

For the full article (and an interesting read!), check out the link below:



Photo from:

Katie M

4 thoughts on “How does cigarette packaging influence behaviour in young adults?

  1. Thank you for all your comments and support. @Kathy & Katherina, I’m glad you enjoyed the style of the article. I think that it is important to present the information in a way that allows both smokers and non-smokers to read the material without feeling threatened or criticized.

    @Deon – Thanks for the witty comment, you’re too kind!

    I’m I look forward to writing my next post!


  2. Thank you for being our teacher on this subject matter. I enjoyed your own article quite definitely and most of all enjoyed the way in which you handled the aspect I widely known as controversial. You happen to be always quite kind towards readers like me and help me in my life. Thank you.
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