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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Cigarette packaging and health warnings: the impact of plain packaging and message framing on young smokers

Darren Mays, Raymond S Niaura, W Douglas Evans, David Hammond, George Luta, Kenneth P Tercyak
Tobacco Control 2015, 24 (e1): e87-92
24420310

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the impact of pictorial cigarette-warning labels, warning-label message framing and plain cigarette packaging, on young adult smokers' motivation to quit.

METHODS: Smokers aged 18-30 years (n=740) from a consumer research panel were randomised to one of four experimental conditions where they viewed online images of four cigarette packs with warnings about lung disease, cancer, stroke/heart disease and death, respectively. Packs differed across conditions by warning-message framing (gain vs loss) and packaging (branded vs plain). Measures captured demographics, smoking behaviour, covariates and motivation to quit in response to cigarette packs.

RESULTS: Pictorial warnings about lung disease and cancer generated the strongest motivation to quit across conditions. Adjusting for pretest motivation and covariates, a message framing by packaging interaction revealed gain-framed warnings on plain packs generated greater motivation to quit for lung disease, cancer and mortality warnings (p<0.05), compared with loss-framed warnings on plain packs.

CONCLUSIONS: Warnings combining pictorial depictions of smoking-related health risks with text-based messages about how quitting reduces risks, may achieve better outcomes among young adults, especially in countries considering or implementing plain packaging regulations.

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