A Cochrane Review published today finds standardised tobacco packaging may lead to a reduction in smoking prevalence and reduces the appeal of tobacco.
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco use kills more people worldwide than any other preventable cause of death. Global health experts believe the best way to reduce tobacco use is by stopping people starting to use tobacco and encouraging and helping existing users to stop.
The introduction of standardised (or ‘plain’) packaging was recommended by the World Health Organisation, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) guidelines. This recommendation was based on evidence around tobacco promotion in general and studies which examined the impact of changes in packaging on knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviour. Standardised tobacco packaging places restrictions on the appearance of tobacco packs so that there is a uniform colour (and in some cases shape) with no logos or branding apart from health warnings and other government-mandated information, and the brand name appears in a prescribed uniform font, colour and size.
From next month, UK legislation on standardised packaging for all tobacco packs comes into full effect.
Australia was the first country in the world to implement standardised packaging of tobacco products. The laws, which took full effect there in December 2012, also required enlarged pictorial health warnings.
A team of Cochrane researchers from the UK and Canada have summarised results from studies that examine the impact of standardised packaging on tobacco attitudes and behaviour. They have today published their findings in the Cochrane Library.