#WorldNoTobaccoDay: Linda Bauld and the road to standardised tobacco packaging @bmj_latest

“The road to standardised tobacco packaging in the UK”

Every year in the United Kingdom around 200 000 children start smoking. Half of those who try a cigarette will become regular smokers, putting themselves at risk of tobacco related diseases that can shorten their lifespan by at least a decade. Because of this, the UK and other governments have implemented a range of tobacco control measures over many years, which are intended to both prevent smoking uptake and encourage smoking cessation. Key among these have been measures to restrict the ability of the tobacco industry to market their products to new and existing smokers.

Firstly, traditional forms of advertising such as TV and billboards were banned, followed by sports sponsorship, and, most recently, point of sale displays in shops. All that was left was tobacco packaging: a way to communicate to consumers the appeal of the product and to promote different brands.

My team at the University of Stirling has conducted research on tobacco marketing for many years, funded by Cancer Research UK. Most recently we undertook our own studies on tobacco packaging, and then in 2011 were commissioned by the Department of Health to review all the evidence on plain or “standard packs.” Our review provided the basis for a UK consultation on the issue. At the time we found 37 studies, conducted in different countries and using a variety of research designs. Their findings were consistent. The studies showed that standard packs are: less appealing, increase the visibility and effectiveness of health warnings, and reduce the ability of packaging to mislead people about the harms of smoking.


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Drinking guidelines are a poor fit with Britain’s heavy drinking habits.

The Government’s current alcohol guidelines are unrealistic and largely ignored because they have little relevance to people’s drinking habits!

~According to a new report by the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group (SARG) in collaboration with the University of Sterling.

The study, which is the first of its kind, explored how drinkers make sense of the current UK drinking guidelines which suggest men should not regularly exceed three to four units of alcohol a day, while women should not regularly drink more than two to three units daily.

Leading researchers from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, which includes the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling conducted focus groups to see how the current guidelines were perceived by people aged between 19-65 years-old and from varied socioeconomic backgrounds.

The findings, published yesterday (5 August 2015) in the journal Addiction, show that the guidelines are generally disregarded as the daily intake suggestions are deemed irrelevant in a country where most people don’t drink everyday but may drink heavily at the weekend.

The results also revealed that people think the recommended quantities of drink are unrealistic, as they don’t recognise that many people are motivated to drink to get drunk. Continue reading