New Irish research published on BMJ Open has found that people aged 16-17 see standardized packs as being less attractive than packs with EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) warnings, which include graphics and text covering 65 per cent of a pack’s main surfaces, according to a story in the Irish Times.
And they perceive that the cigarettes contained in standardized packs are more harmful than those in TPD-style packs.
The Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland (TFRI) conducted a nation-wide survey of 1,378 secondary school students to test attitudes towards standardized and TPD packs. Students were asked to compare packs on the basis of attractiveness and perceived health risk.
The Times story said that, in all instances, ‘cigarettes in EU TPD packs were thought to be more attractive and less risky than cigarettes in standardized packs – including the Silk Cut, Marlboro, and Benson and Hedges brands’.
Dr. Kate Babineau, postdoctoral research fellow with the TFRI, said that while it might seem obvious that young people preferred branded packs to standardized packs, many continued to argue that packaging was irrelevant.
“These findings are in line with dozens of international studies which prove that packaging elements do influence young people’s perceptions of products,” she said.
In March, Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins signed into law standardized tobacco packaging legislation under which cigarette manufacturers will be required, from May 2016, to produce cigarettes for the Irish market in standardized packaging.
From May 2017 only cigarettes in standardized packaging will be allowed to be sold on the Irish market.
Ireland was the second country after Australia to bring in such legislation. In Australia, standardized packaging has been a requirement since December 2012.
Also in March, the Japan Tobacco group initiated a High Court action against the Irish government aimed at blocking the requirement that cigarettes should be sold in standardized packs.