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BACKGROUND: Plain packaging requires tobacco products to be sold in packs with a standard shape, method of opening and colour, leaving the brand name in a standard font and location. We ran a randomised controlled trial to investigate the impact of plain packaging on smoking behaviour and attitudes.
METHODS: In a parallel group randomised trial design, 128 daily smokers smoked cigarettes from their usual UK brand, or a plain Australian brand that was closely matched to their usual UK brand for 24 hours. Primary outcomes were number of cigarettes smoked and volume of smoke inhaled per cigarette. Secondary outcomes were self-reported ratings of motivation to quit, cigarette taste, experience of using the pack, experience of smoking, attributes of the pack, perceptions of the health warning, changes in smoking behaviour, and views on plain packaging.
RESULTS: There was no evidence that pack type had an effect on either of the primary measures (ps > 0.279). However, smokers using plain cigarette packs rated the experience of using the pack more negatively (-0.52, 95% CI -0.82 to -0.22, p = 0.001), rated the pack attributes more negatively (-1.59, 95% CI -1.80 to -1.39, p < 0.001), and rated the health warning as more impactful (+0.51, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.78, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Plain cigarette packs reduce ratings of the experience of using the cigarette pack, and ratings of the pack attributes, and increase the self-perceived impact of the health warning, but do not change smoking behaviour, at least in the short term.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN52982308 . Registered 27 June 2013.
- Brain and Behaviour
- Tobacco and Alcohol
- Physical and Mental Health
- Plain cigarette packaging
- Randomised controlled trial
- Standardised packaging