Plain Packaging Makes Cigarettes Less Appealing: Study

Plain cigarette packs -- adopted in Australia, and being considered by the European Union -- do make tobacco less appealing, according to a new study in the journal BMC Public Health.

The study included 640 women from Brazil, between the ages of 16 and 26, who were presented with 10 images of cigarette packs: regular cigarette packs with brands, plain cigarette packs, and abnormally colorful cigarette packs that had both branding and advertised flavors.

The study participants were asked to rate the different packs in terms of how appealing they were, how good they expected the cigarettes to taste, their potential health risks, and other factors. Then, the participants were offered to take a free gift: either one of the plain cigarette packs, or one of the ones with branding.

The researchers, from the University of Waterloo, found that the colorful branded packs were more likely to receive higher ratings -- for flavor and appeal, for example -- than those with the plain packs. Additionally, the colorful branded packs were more likely to be chosen as the free gift at the end than the plain ones.

Therefore, "plain packaging and removal of descriptors may reduce the appeal of smoking for youth and young adults, and consequently reduce smoking susceptibility," the researchers wrote in the study. "Overall, the findings provide support for plain packaging regulations, such as those proposed in Australia."

Recently, Australia's High Court upheld a ban on company logos on cigarette packs. Starting in December, instead of featuring the brand name, the packs will be a dull olive-color and will have images of health effects of smoking, the Associated Press reported.