Qualitative assessment of a Context of Consumption Framework to inform regulation of cigarette pack design in the U.S.
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Department of Health Education and Promotion, College of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, United States
School of Social Work, College of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Department of Interior Design and Merchandising, College of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Joseph G. L. Lee   

Department of Health Education and Promotion, College of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Mail Stop 529, 1000 East 5th Street, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, United States
Publish date: 2018-02-10
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(February):3
Researchers and regulators need to know how changes to cigarette packages can influence population health. We sought to advance research on the role of cigarette packaging by assessing a theory-informed framework from the fields of design and consumer research. The selected Context of Consumption Framework posits cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to visual design. To assess the Framework’s potential for guiding research on the visual design of cigarette packaging in the U.S., this study seeks to understand to what extent the Context of Consumption Framework converges with how adult smokers think and talk about cigarette pack designs.

Data for this qualitative study came from six telephone-based focus groups conducted in March 2017. Two groups consisted of lesbian, gay, and bisexual participants; two groups of participants with less than four years college education; one group of LGB and straight identity; and one group the general population. All groups were selected for regional, gender, and racial/ethnic diversity. Participants (n=33) represented all nine U.S. Census divisions. We conducted a deductive qualitative analysis.

Cigarette package designs captured the participants’ attention, suggested the characteristics of the product, and reflected (or could be leveraged to convey) multiple dimensions of consumer identity. Particular to the affective responses to design, our participants shared that cigarette packaging conveyed how the pack could be used to particular ends, created an emotional response to the designs, complied with normative expectations of a cigarette, elicited interest when designs change, and prompted fascination when unique design characteristics are used.

Use of the Context of Consumption Framework for cigarette product packaging design can inform regulatory research on tobacco product packaging. Researchers and regulators should consider multiple cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to cigarette pack design.

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