How tobacco companies in the United Kingdom responded to standardised packaging of cigarettes and rolling tobacco
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University of Stirling, Institute for Social Marketing, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A182
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Tobacco packaging is a key promotional tool. The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations and Tobacco Products Directive requires all packs of cigarettes (factory-made and roll-your-own) in the United Kingdom to be drab brown and display pictorial health warnings on the principal display areas, and contain no less than 20 cigarettes or 30 grams of tobacco. The legislation was phased in between May 2016 and May 2017. Our objective was to monitor pack, brand and product changes pre- and post-implementation.

Our surveillance of the cigarette market comprised a review of the trade press, a monthly monitor of supermarket websites, and regular visits to retailers, from May 2015 to June 2017.

Changes to the packaging in the run-up to standardised packaging included novel designs (e.g. limited edition packs) and innovations (e.g. re-sealable inner foil, re-usable tins), and changes since standardised packaging included newer cigarette pack sizes (e.g. 23 and 24 packs). Changes to the branding since standardised packaging included brand migrations (e.g. St. Moritz Menthol became Dunhill St. Moritz), and brand and/or variant name change (e.g. Carlton Smooth Blue became Carlton Bright Blue), with the inclusion of colour descriptors common (e.g. Richmond Menthol became Richmond Green). Product changes in the run-up to standardised packaging included the introduction of a range of novel filter designs (e.g. filters with two flavour-changing capsules, tube filters, firmer filters, and filters with granular additives). There appeared to be non-compliance with the legislation, with very slim packs (e.g. Alluvé Lilac, Vogue Original Green) on sale after standardised packaging was fully implemented; the depth of these packs (12mm) was less than the minimum required depth (20mm).

Our findings highlight the need to monitor developments in markets introducing standardised packaging, and for countries moving towards standardised packaging we provide an insight into how tobacco companies respond to this measure.

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