For Surveyed Teens, Plain Cigarette Packaging = Boring and Makes Smoking Less Attractive

Study of whether plain cigarette packaging affects purchases by youth

From 1994 to 1995, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago studied the effect on smoking by youth if all cigarette packages were a standard color with black printing giving only the brand name, contents, and a health warning.

Key Findings

  • Using focus groups and classroom surveys of adolescents in Ontario and Chicago, the researchers found that youth transfer the imagery of the package to the user of the product. The imagery of the plain package is decidedly negative.

  • The data strongly suggested that youth believe that plain packaging would make it less likely that young people would start smoking.

  • The study also confirmed that young people interpret tobacco company sponsorship of sports and cultural events as tobacco advertising.

  • Researchers concluded that plain packaging would be an important strategy for breaking the link between the package and tobacco companies' sponsorship activities.