Perceptions of plain cigarette packaging among smokers and non-smokers in Andalusia (Spain)

Gac Sanit. Jan-Feb 2020;34(1):10-14. doi: 10.1016/j.gaceta.2018.04.009. Epub 2018 Jul 17.


Objectives: Each year tobacco is responsible for 650,000 deaths in Europe and 55,000 in Spain. With tobacco advertising and promotion banned in Spain and most of Europe, the last bastion of marketing is the packaging. Plain tobacco packaging -which involves packs having a standardised appearance- has been proposed to counter this. The objective of this study is to research perceptions arising from the plain packaging of tobacco products.

Methods: We employed a qualitative research methodology -focus groups- with smokers and non-smokers in in two medium-sized Andalusian towns (Spain).

Results: Results show the importance of plain cigarette packaging as a form of promotion, particularly among women and young people, how pack colour influences product perceptions, and how removing full branding increases the salience of the warnings.

Conclusions: Plain packaging, combined with pictorial health warnings, may reduce the capacity of packaging to be distinctive and a badge product. Altering pack design in such a way would make it more difficult for tobacco companies to create a favourable image of their brands and may help to reinforce the ability of the population to protect themselves from the dangers of smoking.

Keywords: Envase neutro; Investigación cualitativa; Marketing social; Plain packaging; Qualitative research; Social marketing; Tabaco; Tobacco.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Color
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-Smokers / psychology*
  • Product Packaging / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sex Factors
  • Smokers / psychology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Spain
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Young Adult