Plain, standardised cigarette packaging can help to eliminate any false perceptions that smokers might have about certain products being safer than others.
This is according to a new online survey of 900 consumers carried out by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, which studied how plain packaging affected perceptions of three of the most popular cigarette brands in the US.
“Plain cigarette packaging can play a key role in reducing incorrect public impressions of a product's relative safety, according to a new study.“
Many brands have used terms such as low-tar, natural, organic or additive-free in their product descriptions, creating an impression that these cigarettes are safer than others, despite there being no evidence to support this.
When plain packaging was substituted for branded labels, smokers' perceptions of their safety decreased significantly.
Dr John Pierce, professor emeritus for the department of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said: "Standardised packaging can reduce consumers' beliefs about the safety of cigarette brands that include words like 'natural' on packaging, and instead display a common warning of the harms of smoking."
The UK has already introduced laws making plain packaging for cigarettes mandatory, as have other nations such as Australia.
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