University of Newcastle research: Plain cigarette packs impact ‘taste’

21 July 2014

Long-term smokers involved in a study published by University of Newcastle health researchers believed that the quality of their cigarettes had deteriorated following the implementation of plain packaging.

University of Newcastle Public School
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Many could no longer differentiate between brands, saying that all cigarettes now tasted the same.
“It lends support to the plain packaging legislation and provides fuel for other countries to take up the policy,” co-author Associate Professor Billie Bonevski said of the HMRI-funded qualitative study that investigated the effectiveness of tobacco messaging among socio-economically disadvantaged smokers.
“It really shows the power of branding, which is why the tobacco industry fought so rigorously against the introduction of plain packs.”
Focus group discussions took place before and after plain packaging was enacted, with PhD candidate Ashleigh Guillaumier recruiting participants from five Hunter-based welfare organisations. Among the respondents were those with mental illness, drug and alcohol dependencies or those experiencing homelessness.
“These are the people with the highest smoking rates – 70 to 80 per cent as opposed to less than 20 per cent in general society,” Ms Guillaumier said. “It’s vital that any government anti-smoking initiatives work with these smokers.”
While plain packaging was considered a worthwhile initiative to discourage young people from adopting the habit, most of the existing smokers distanced themselves from graphic imagery. More effective were advertising campaigns depicting personal case studies.
“Many thought the health effects messages were exaggerated and not the direct result of smoking, which highlights the importance of addressing the misconceptions surrounding the impact of cigarettes,” Ms Guillaumier added.
“Personalised campaigns really struck a chord with our smoking groups, such as that of a 34-year-old smoker named Brian which showed the rapid deterioration of his health after being diagnosed with lung cancer.”
Researchers felt that many of the smokers surveyed would benefit from further promotion of cessation services such as Quitline as the majority had found quitting too difficult in the past.

About the Master of Public Health program at the University of Newcastle

The Master of Public Health program at the University of Newcastle provides its students with opportunities to undertake professional development and develop a strong foundation in public health. The program will be of interest to individuals of all ages, at any stage of their career, who have a basic undergraduate degree in health and are working in, or intending to work in, the area of public health.
Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Newcastle, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this public health program, applicants are strongly encouraged by the University of Newcastle to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.
Entry Requirements: To be eligible to apply, you must have a bachelor degree in an approved health-related discipline; or other qualifications approved by the pro-vice-chancellor, Faculty of Health.

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