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Stirling researchers lead review of tobacco packaging

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Academics from the University’s Stirling Management School have conducted a systematic review of plain tobacco packaging which has led to the UK government’s consultation on whether tobacco should be sold in standardised or plain packaging.

The study team included Professor Gerard Hastings and Professor Linda Bauld, both of whom are members of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies. The review of evidence focusses on whether cigarettes should be sold in plain packs to reduce the attractiveness of the brand packaging and make the health warnings more clear.

Professor Hastings says: “Just over three dozen studies were identified and these show that plain packaging can help smokers in three ways: by increasing the prominence and effectiveness of health warnings; by making the pack, and thereby smoking, less appealing and removing the confusion about relative harm which pack design can cause.”

Professor Bauld added: “This systematic review forms the basis for the UK wide consultation on whether plain packaging should be introduced.  The studies we identified and describe in the review were remarkably consistent in their findings and clearly set out what effect plain packaging could have.

“The public consultation will take place from April to July and will help the government to decide whether the UK will follow Australia’s lead, where plain packaging will be introduced by 2013. I’d encourage people to have a look at the evidence set out in our review, make up their own minds about the issue and respond to the consultation.”

The Department of Health commissioned the review of the evidence on plain tobacco packaging through the Public Health Research Consortium (PHRC), a network of researchers funded by the Department of Health's Policy Research Programme.

The PHRC report is available online here. 

The Department of Health consultation on the packaging of tobacco products is here.

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