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Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Experimental studies of tobacco plain packaging

This program of work undertook experimental studies of adult smokers and youth to examine their responses to cigarette packs with increasingly plainer and/or larger graphic health warnings. These studies investigated how smokers’ expectancies influence their actual experience of consuming the product. Overall, these studies found that compared to current cigarette packs with full branding, cigarette packs that displayed progressively fewer branding design elements were perceived increasingly unfavourably in terms of brand image, smokers’ appraisals of the packs, the smokers who might smoke such packs, and the inferred experience of smoking a cigarette from these packs. The work program also included studies to experimentally compare the sensory and evaluative experience of smoking cigarettes from plain packs that feature different brand and variant names. These studies found that even when all packs were plain and all cigarettes smoked were objectively the same, the existence of a premium brand name improved smokers’ rated taste and purchase likelihood of the product compared to products that featured no brand name or a cheaper brand name.  These studies demonstrate the powerful halo effects of all branding elements on the sensory experience of smoking.

CBRC staff

Prof Melanie Wakefield, Dr Gemma Skaczkowski, Prof Sarah Durkin


Prof Yoshihisa Kashima (The University of Melbourne), Prof David Hammond (University of Waterloo, Canada), Prof Marv Goldberg (Penn State University, USA)


NHMRC Project Grant (623203), Cancer Council Victoria


2007 - 2018