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Using Neuroscience to Inform Tobacco Control Policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernty057
Pages (from-to)739-746
Number of pages8
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number6
Early online date24 Mar 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Mar 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - 21 May 2019


INTRODUCTION: Techniques employed in the field of neuroscience, such as eye tracking, electroencephalography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging, have been important in informing our understanding of the cognitive mechanisms underlying tobacco smoking. These techniques are now increasingly being used to investigate the likely impact of tobacco control policies. AIMS AND METHODS: In this narrative review, we outline the value of these methodological approaches in answering policy-relevant tobacco control research questions, with a particular focus on their use in examining the impact of standardized cigarette packaging and health warnings. We also examine the limitations of these methodologies and provide examples of how they can be used to answer other policy-relevant questions. RESULTS: We argue that neuroscience techniques can provide more objective evidence of the impacts of policy measures, allow investigation where it is not possible to conduct behavioral manipulations, and facilitate a deeper understanding of the cognitive mechanisms underlying the impacts of tobacco control policies such as standardized packaging, health warnings, point-of-sale displays, and mass media campaigns. CONCLUSIONS: Rather than replacing more traditional methods of examining tobacco control measures, such as observational experiments, surveys, and questionnaires, neuroscience techniques can complement and extend these methods. IMPLICATIONS: Neuroscience techniques facilitate objective examination of the mechanisms underlying the impacts of tobacco control measures. These techniques can therefore complement and extend other methodologies typically used in this field, such as observational experiments, surveys, and questionnaires.

    Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Tobacco and Alcohol
  • Physical and Mental Health

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