An ANU-led study has confirmed that Australia’s world-first plain cigarette packaging policy, introduced in December 2012, has helped Australians quit smoking by eroding their ability to identify with a brand.
The study has provided the first hard evidence on the links between brand identity and smokers’ propensity to purchase cigarette products. According to the findings, brand identification declined following the introduction of plain packaging and has been associated with reduced smoking levels.
The study asked 178 Australian smokers to rate their identification with other smokers of their preferred brand, positive brand stereotypes, intentions and actions to quit, and smoking intensity, both before and after the policy change. It found that smokers tend to purchase particular brands not only because they prefer that brand, but because it gives them a sense of belonging to a social group. Plain packaging helps negate this effect.
Smoking kills more than 5 million people each year and remains the number one cause of preventable death worldwide.