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  • Impact of plain packaging extends to cigar and cigarillo smokers

    19 March 2015

    Plain packaging and larger graphic health warnings is reducing the prestige and desirability of cigars and cigarillos, according to a world-first study.

    The Adelaide study investigated responses of Australian cigar and cigarillo smokers to plain packaging and is published today as part of a special supplement to international journal Tobacco Control.

    The study’s researchers used in-depth interviews, focus groups and a national online survey of cigar and cigarillo smokers to determine the impact of plain packaging beyond cigarette smokers. They found:

    • Many cigar and cigarillo smokers who were exposed to plain packaging noticed and were concerned by, graphic health warnings, tried to avoid them and they felt more like “dirty smokers”;

    • Non-premium cigarillo smokers appeared to have been the most exposed and influenced by plain packaging. They reported their products being less appealing, of lower quality, perceived taste and enjoyment. They also noticed graphic health warnings and thought about quitting more often than prior to the introduction of plain packaging.

    The lead author of the study Dr Caroline Miller, of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Cancer Council SA’s Beat Cancer Project Principal Research Fellow, is currently in Abu Dhabi at the World Tobacco Conference presenting these findings.

    “The evaluation showed there was incomplete exposure to plain packaging and graphic health warnings across these products, but when smokers were exposed to plain packaging and health warnings they had significant impact,” Dr Miller said.

    “Overall, the evaluation provides a useful insight into the smoking thoughts, attitudes and behaviours of cigar and cigarillo smokers, as well as evidence that when exposure did occur plain packaging influenced these smokers in ways that were consistent with the specific aims of the legislation.”

    The long standing policy of Cancer Council is to include cigars and cigarillos in all tobacco control measures.

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said that the more we can do to reduce smoking throughout the community, the better the health outcomes will be for South Australians.

    “At a time when the popularity of cigars and cigarillos is on the rise internationally, and when cigarillos in particular more closely resemble cigarette products, it is critical that these products are included in tobacco control measures,” Professor Wilson said.

    “Cigars and cigarillos are consistently viewed as less harmful or distinct from cigarettes – in line with how these tobacco products are marketed and packaged.

    We need to ensure that all smokers recognise how harmful their habit is.”

    “Tobacco kills around 20 South Australians every week, which is why it’s so important to encourage smokers to quit and deter young people from taking up the deadly habit.

    “We encourage anyone requiring assistance to quit smoking to call the Quitline. Our statistics indicate that smokers utilising the Quitline are twice as likely to successfully quit.”

    The study, titled “You’re made to feel like a dirty filthy smoker when you’re not, cigar smoking is another thing all together.” - Responses of Australian cigar and cigarillo smokers to plain packaging is published today as part of a special supplement to international journal Tobacco Control - http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com.

    If you need assistance to quit smoking call the Quitline on 13 7848.

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