Exeposé – News: Plain cigarette packaging research

This week I wanted to try something new, and put my name forward to tackle a News article. I was asked to look at some of the University’s recent research, and despite the scientific nature of the task I think I did it justice:

Smoking

University researches plain cigarette packaging

A recent investigation into the effects of plain cigarette packaging has concluded that it could deter people from buying cigarettes: smokers were nearly 10% less likely to choose cigarettes when faced with an unbranded pack.

The study was a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Bristol, who made their report in the journal ‘Addiction’. In their experiments, smokers were given a choice between two keys, offering access to either cigarettes or chocolate. Just before the participant made their decision, they were shown one of three pictures: a branded pack, a plain pack, or nothing.

Lee Hogarth, Exeter Associate Professor and the lead researcher, explained that the branded packaging clearly encouraged “cigarette-seeking behaviour”. However, he accepted there were further factors to consider before enforcing plain packaging nationally. Outside the laboratory, external variables – including the presence of nearby smokers and the time of day – could have a more noticeable impact than packaging. Nonetheless, this research adds some convincing evidence to the ongoing debates on the subject.

In 2012, Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging, and the initial results have been promising, with the daily smoking rate falling by 15% between 2010 and late 2013.

After a political decision in the UK was controversially postponed in 2013, a final answer will be established by a parliamentary vote in the next few months. If successful, plain packaging will be implemented by law in England and Wales in 2016, with Scotland expected to follow soon after.

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