Critchlow N, Stead M, Moodie C, Eadie D & MacKintosh AM (2019) Introduction of standardized tobacco packaging during a 12-month transition period: Findings from small retailers in the United Kingdom. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 21 (7), pp. 871-878. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/nty006
Introduction: Factory-made cigarettes (FMC) and roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco have had to be produced in standardised packaging since 20th May 2016 in the United Kingdom, with a minimum pack size of 20 sticks for FMC and 30 grams for RYO. Manufacturers and retailers were given a 12-month transition period.
Methods: An observational study was conducted using monthly Electronic Point of Sale data from 500 small retailers in England, Scotland, and Wales, between May 2016 and May 2017. The 20 top selling tobacco products (15 FMC, 5 RYO) were monitored to observe when standardised packs were first introduced, the proportion of retailers selling each fully branded and standardised product, and the average number of monitored fully branded and standardised products sold by each retailer. The number of unique tobacco-related product codes sold by each retailer was also recorded each month.
Results: Eighteen of the fully branded products continued to be sold throughout the transition period and no standardised variants were sold in the first five months. It was not until month eleven that the average number of standardised products sold by retailers exceeded the fully branded products. The average number of unique tobacco-related product codes sold by each retailer decreased by a third over the transition period.
Conclusions: Tobacco companies used the transition period to delay the removal of fully branded products and gradually introduce standardised variants. This staggered introduction may have mitigated some of the immediate intended effects of the legislation by desensitising consumers to new pack designs.
tobacco packaging; small retailers; standardised packaging; plain packaging; policy; retailers; cigarettes; tobacco;
Nicotine and Tobacco Research: Volume 21, Issue 7