Smokers of plain cigarette packs were rated as significantly less stylish, less sociable and less mature than smokers of cigarette packs with full branding, according to a new study.
The study, appearing online in the international journal Tobacco Control, examined how a potential move to plain packaging on cigarettes would impact smokers’ appraisals of the packs, the smokers who might smoke such packs, and the inferred experience of smoking a cigarette from these packs
Lead author of the study, Professor Melanie Wakefield of The Cancer Council Victoria, said the research demonstrated not only that smokers perceive plain packs unfavourably, but also that plain packs with the least branding have the least appeal.
"This study shows that compared to current cigarette packs with full branding, cigarette packs that displayed progressively fewer branding design elements were perceived increasingly unfavourably."
"Compared with the original branded pack, such as those currently sold, a plain pack where the brand name appeared only in small standard type at the bottom of the pack, was perceived as being less popular and less attractive."
"Smokers of this plain pack brand were perceived to be less trendy and stylish, less masculine, less sociable or outgoing and less mature," said Professor Wakefield.
Policy Manager of Quit, Ms Kylie Lindorff, said the research provided further evidence why the tobacco industry should be forced to remove all logos, colours, and attractive imagery on cigarette packs.
"Where traditional forms of advertising are banned, packaging now serves as the main vehicle for tobacco marketing, serving as a direct form of mobile advertising for the brand."
"Research from the tobacco industry itself shows the design of a cigarette pack generates powerful images about the type of person who might typically smoke the brand, and what to expect from the smoking experience."
"By removing design elements and making packs plain we can shut down this important advertising avenue, valued hugely by the tobacco industry in their attempts to carefully target new and current smokers."
Ms Lindorff said stripping cigarette packs of colours, brand imagery, corporate logos and trademarks is one of the most straight-forward tobacco control policies the Commonwealth Government could introduce to reduce the devastating and unnecessary toll of tobacco on a community.
"Plain packaging is a fairly simple and common-sense policy that could be adopted by cigarette manufacturers within a short space of time."
"Past experience tells us the tobacco industry is adept at introducing new packaging and special edition designs for events like the Grand Prix so we know they can turnover new packs with ease"
A move to plain packaging would mean that cigarette manufacturers would be permitted to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font and location, in addition to required health warnings and other legally mandated information such as toxic constituents, tax-seals or pack contents.
(Source: Tobacco Control: Quit: October 2008)