According to the Pulse plain packaging on cigarettes makes tobacco less appealing and increases smokers’ urgency to quit, suggests new research from Australia.
They found the plain pack smokers were 81% more likely
than branded pack smokers to have thought about quitting at least once a
day in the past week, as well as being significantly more likely to
rate quitting as a higher priority in their lives.
will pile pressure on the UK Government, which was heavily criticised by
doctors for ditching plans to introduce plain packaging in the UK.
officially introduced plain, brown packaging on all cigarettes and
rolling tobacco, with graphic health warnings covering 75% of the front
of the pack, from December last year.
To look at the early effects
of the policy, researchers surveyed 536 smokers in the state of
Victoria during November, when the plain packaged tobacco was already
Around three out of four (72.3%) of the
participants were smoking from the plain packs while the rest (27.7%)
were still smoking from branded packs.
They found that smokers
using the plain packs were 66% more likely to think their cigarettes
were of poorer quality than a year ago, and 70% more likely to say they
found them less satisfying than a year ago, compared with smokers still
using branded packs.
Plain packet smokers were also 51% more likely to support the policy for plain packaging than branded pack smokers.
researchers concluded: ‘The finding that smokers smoking from a plain
pack evidenced more frequent thought about, and priority for quitting,
than branded pack smokers is important, since frequency of thoughts
about quitting has strong predictive validity in prospective studies for
actually making a quit attempt.’
They added: ‘Overall, the
introductory effects we observed are consistent with the broad
objectives of the plain packaging legislation. We await further research
to examine more durable effects on smokers and any effects on youth.’
Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the BMA,
said: ‘The evidence from Australia highlights the error the Government
made in giving in to the tobacco industry and kicking into the long
grass plans to introduce plain packaging.
‘From these early
results it is clear that progress has been made and that plain packaging
is already having the desired effect. As doctors we often see the
devastating effects of tobacco addiction and anything that is making
smokers think again about quitting must be welcomed.
‘We urge the
Government to reconsider their decision and introduce legislation that
would help put an end to a life-long addiction that kills and destroys
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* 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.