Flavoured Cigarettes, Sensation Seeking and Adolescents' Perceptions of Cigarette Brands

This study examined the interactive effects of cigarette package flavour descriptors and sensation seeking on adolescents’ brand perceptions. High school students (n = 253) were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions and sequentially exposed to cigarette package illustrations for three different brands.

In the flavour descriptor condition, the packages included a description of the cigarettes as “cherry,” while in the traditional descriptor condition the cigarette brands were described with common phrases found on tobacco packages such as “domestic blend.” Following exposure to each package participants’ hedonic beliefs, brand attitudes and trial intentions were assessed. Sensation seeking was also measured, and participants were categorised as lower or higher sensation seekers. Across hedonic belief, brand attitude and trial intention measures, there were interactions between package descriptor condition and sensation seeking.

These interactions revealed that among high (but not low) sensation seekers, exposure to cigarette packages including sweet flavour descriptors led to more favourable brand impressions than did exposure to packages with traditional descriptors. Among high sensation seeking youths, the appeal of cigarette brands is enhanced through the use of flavours and associated descriptions on product packaging.