According to a New Zealand study, removing all branding off tobacco and cigarette packets can prove to be an effective option for turning teenagers off the habit of smoking.
It was found by the Auckland study that the present graphic warnings on cigarette packs were designed to prevent smokers from having a smoke, but they also led teens to view smokers as undesirable, which was evident from descriptions such as “social outcasts” and “addicted”.
Australia is the first country to announce a plan to force tobacco into plain packaging with large pictorial health warnings-a move the industry says it will fight.
From 2012, the only remnant of branding would be the name of the product, in uniform print. Gone would be the colours and attractive pictures.
“I think it would be hugely powerful for young people. The pack is the last bastion of tobacco industry promotion,” the New Zealand Herald quoted Auckland University researcher Judith McCool as saying.
McCool co-supervised master’s degree research by Lisa Webb in which 80 students aged 14 or 15 from six Auckland schools were interviewed about their attitudes to smoking, smokers, tobacco packaging and plain packets.
The study found that for teenagers the plain packets were dull, but they said that it enhanced the impact of the graphic health warnings.
“These perceptions were transferred to the act of cigarette smoking as an unattractive or uncool behaviour,” said the researchers.
The researchers said teenagers were left confused by the health messages on brightly colored packets alongside brand imagery that actually blunted effects of the warnings.