Tobacco plain packaging with larger graphic health warnings was introduced in Australia in late 2012. This study entailed a monthly Australian survey of adult smokers and recent quitters from April 2012 to March 2014, each of whom were followed-up four weeks later. In order to assess the three proximal objectives of the legislation, questions were asked about pack appeal, noticeability of health warnings and perception of the relative harms of different cigarettes. Follow-up questions asked about quitting intentions and attempts, with analyses able to adjust for prior recent quit attempts. To increase understanding of how the tobacco industry responded to the legislation, questions also asked smokers about their most recently purchased tobacco brand, variant and pack size, place of purchase, price paid, use of chop-chop tobacco and fully branded packs, and cigarette consumption. Overall, the study found the three specific objectives of plain packaging were achieved in the first year of legislation. The legislation was also associated with an increase in smokers making quit attempts, with evidence showing the more salient larger health warnings on the packs were a key factor in driving these attempts. Contrary to industry predictions, use of illicit tobacco remained extremely low and unchanged, place of tobacco purchase did not change, prices continued to increase, and cigarette consumption did not increase.
Prof Melanie Wakefield, Dr Michelle Scollo, A/Prof Sarah Durkin, Dr Emily Brennan, Dr Kerri Coomber, Meghan Zacher
Australian Department of Health and Ageing
2012 - 2015