Plain Packaging For Cigarettes Encourages Smokers To Quit – True Or False?

A post on Reddit linking to a piece by NewScientist, and subsequently a study on plain packaging for cigarettes, has garnered thousands of comments.

Reddit users are arguing over whether they believe the study is true – has plain packaging increased smokers intentions to quit?

One user said, “Might have more to do with the fact that along with the plain packaging, prices of cigarettes have soared.”

And another said, “Target for antismoking campaigns are mostly youngsters who usually start smoking because it is cool. So killing the brand seems like correct decision.”


One user looked at how smoking rates were falling elsewhere.

The problem I have with this is that the article appears to credit the plain packets with the decline in smoking.

“Between 2010 and 2013, the proportion of daily smokers in Australia dropped from 15.1 to 12.8 per cent – a record decline.” In other words, a drop of 2.3 percent (15.1 – 12.8).

Yet in the United States – which does not have plain packaging – the rate dropped from 19.3 (in 2010) to 17.8 (in 2013). That’s 1.5 percent (19.3 – 17.8). Granted, that’s not as much as Australia’s decline but it indicates that you cannot credit Australia’s entire decline to the plain packaging since declines happened in places without plain packaging.

And this user that pointed out the fault in calling it ‘plain packaging’, “If by plain you mean loaded with images of death, yeah OK.”

Plain packaging for cigarettes was introduced in Australia in December, 2012.

The study, involving 178 Australians, found that after plain packaging was introduced, smokers “experienced a significant decrease in their brand identity”.

“This was associated with lower smoking behaviours and increased intentions to quit,” the study’s abstract read.

Top photo from Pexels, Pixabay

Matt Male

Constantly running amuck.