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Cancer Research UK and plain packs

Monday, 30 April 2012  at 12:31

We have been working closely with Cancer Research UK since well before the launch of the campaign and they have been fantastic partners on plain packaging evidence and generating support for the plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Last week they released a powerful report and video showing children's attitudes to packaging:


As children handle and see cigarette packets their words resonate with everyone who believes that plain packs will help protect them from a lifetime of addiction and reduce the number of kids smoking. The report that was issued alongside the video is a particularly good resource for the case for plain packs. The evidence is there to be considered especially the comments from children on pack design.

From the report, looking at pack shape:

Participants had very positive responses to slimmer, more feminine oriented packs. Initially, there was both curiosity and uncertainty as to exactly what or how many cigarettes these packs contained. Some participants thought they contained filter tips, while others thought they must hold only four or five cigarettes.

The Silk Cut Superslims pack was repeatedly referred to as looking like perfume or makeup, and the Vogue pack, like chocolate. That these packs did not resemble a standard cigarette pack generated interest among participants, particularly the girls.

'They don’t look like cigarette packets. It’s unusual and you’d want to buy it to see what it’s like inside
(GIRLS, ABC1)

'Because they look like other things, you want to look at them to see what they actually are.'
(GIRL, C2DE)

The packs were repeatedly described as unusual and different to standard packs, something viewed positively by participants. One explanation for this may be that participants’ smoking attitudes were generally negative (see section 4.3.8.1) and these more unusual packs shed some of the negative associations of smoking.

Of particular appeal was the difference in shape, but many participants were also drawn to the colours of these packs. In terms of gender, the packs were consistently rated as ‘appealing’ by all but one group. However, while this group of boys didn’t identify with the pack, they still considered these packs to be attractive and stylish. Similarly, a further two boy groups didn’t think these packs were for them or said they wouldn’t like to be seen with them, but in all other aspects the packs were rated positively by the boys despite being of a more feminine design.

'They’re not really cool to have, but they look quite nice.'
(BOY, C2DE)

'They are quite nicely packaged I guess. They look different. They don’t look normal.'
(BOY, ABC1)

Generally liked by all, these packs were commonly described as ‘cool’ but also ‘cute’ (GIRL, ABC1) ‘compact’ (BOY, ABC1) and ‘skinny’ (GIRL, C2DE). They were perceived to contain less tobacco, resulting in lower harm perceptions. Overall, the user imagery of the superslims packs was positive, relating to a slim, attractive and classy female. Of particular benefit to participants, the packs’ slimness gave added convenience, being easy to carry around in a pocket or bag.

That these packs were smaller and didn’t immediately resemble cigarettes also gave an element of discretion. That these packs could aid hiding smoking from others was seen as an advantage.

'They’d be easy to hide.'
(GIRL, C2DE)

'It’s dead thin and easy to carry about and doesn’t stand out in your pocket'
(BOY, C2DE)

'...if you were smoking and you were trying to like hide it from your mum and dad and that like fell out your pocket or something it wouldn’t be cigarettes'
(GIRL, C2DE)

Have a read of the report and see what you think. If you believe, like we do, that we should close the loop on the last form of tobacco advertising then sign up to show your support and share further.
* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
Supporters Smoke Free South West Ulster Cancer Foundation ash Ash Scotland Ash Wales British Heart Foundation Cancer Research UK Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Cut Films Faculty of Public Health Fresh Smoke Free North East National Heart Forum NCSCT BTS - Stop Smoking Champions The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Royal College of Physicians TCC Tobacco Free Future Trading Standards Partnership South West Smoke Free Lincs - Promoting a tobacco free life