Problems in the study of tobacco companies claim plain packaging

Two scientific studies led by Univ. Otago researchers have disputed claims by tobacco companies on plain packaging.

Both studies were conducted ASPIRE2025 research team, which includes Professor. Janet Hoek and Phil Gendall Otago works with the Department of Marketing and Professor Richard Edwards of the University Department of Health.

The first study involved a survey of 418 smokers and 418 non-smokers in New Zealand was held in March 2012. The study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Hoek says the study showed strong support for plain packaging.

“Overall, more than two-thirds of respondents support plain packaging. Importantly, we conducted a survey prior to the current debate on plain packaging, so that the evaluation shows very high instinctive support policies that people have heard a little bit about in the time,” she says.

Hook said that the introduction of smoking laws bars and restaurants was passed in 2003; studies have shown support levels around 35%. Since then, however, support has grown considerably. “The support of many tobacco control strategies increases as soon as they were made and people have their advantages. Supports plain packaging is very high, but we expect that it will increase even more, as these issues were discussed and after a simple package is introduced.”

Gendall said that while tobacco companies argue that the package just encourages brand switching, the study found only 29% of smokers agreed that it was, while 44 percent disagreed.

“These results tell us smokers do not buy the argument that the package calls them switch brands. This is because smokers know that they are very loyal to the brand and are attached to their preferred brand, and is very unlikely to switch to other brands,” he says.

Edwards says the study also shows a very low support for the tobacco industry arguments that plain packaging is unfair, because it would prevent them from using their brands and logos.

“Among smokers and non-smokers, only 20% of respondents agreed that plain packaging would be unfair, and almost three times as much, did not agree to this proposal. Clearly visible public claims by tobacco companies, and have little sympathy for their arguments”

 The second study, published recently in BMC Public Health, found packages of tobacco reported a very powerful brand identity for young adult smokers and nonsmokers.

Hoek said that these results indicate that the package has the same function as advertising.

“It communicates a positive and inspiring attributes of cigarette brands, and we know from other work that we have carried out that young people are finding these attributes are very attractive.”

The study also included an American brand called Basic, with little in the way of brand image, in contrast to the typical New Zealand tobacco brands that have extensive branding. And smokers and non-smokers saw Basic, as soon as “budget” and “simple.”

“Removal of the brand image excludes aura brand that attracts young people to smoke. Because plain packaging is not just simple but unattractive, we expect that these negative associations and attributes to increase smoking to be even more appealing with plain packaging,” said Gendall.

Hoek also points to the fact that New Zealand has joined the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which requires the removal of all tobacco marketing, promotion and sponsorship.

“The results of these studies show that the current pack of cigarettes acts as an advertisement and tell us that New Zealand should implement a simple package, if it is to avoid tobacco marketing and to meet its obligations of the FCTC.

“Research has also shown exceptional public support of the measure. Typical package will be as popular and logical next step towards a smoke-free New Zealand in 2025,” says

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