Introduction: Cigarette packaging is among the most prominent forms of tobacco marketing. This study examined the impact of cigarette pack design among young women in the United States.
Method: A national sample of 18- to 19-year-old females in the United States completed an online survey in February 2010. Participants were randomized to view eight cigarette packs designed according to one of four experimental conditions: fully branded female packs, same packs without descriptors (e.g., "slims"), same packs without brand imagery or descriptors ("plain" packs), and branded non-female brands. Participants rated packs on measures of appeal and health risk and completed a behavioral pack selection task.
Results: Fully branded female packs were rated significantly more appealing than the same packs without descriptors, "plain" packs, and non-female-branded packs. Female-branded packs were associated with a greater number of positive attributes including glamour, slimness, and attractiveness and were more likely to be perceived as less harmful. Approximately 40% of smokers and nonsmokers requested a pack at the end of the study; female-branded packs were 3 times more likely to be selected than plain packs.
Conclusion: Plain packaging and removing descriptors such as "slims" from cigarette packs may reduce smoking susceptibility among young women.