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expert reaction to study of plain packaging for e-cigarettes

A study published in JAMA Network Open looks at the use of and Standardised Packaging for e-cigarettes.


Dr Sarah Jackson, Principal Research Fellow at the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, said:

“Growing evidence on e-cigarettes suggests they are much less harmful than smoking cigarettes and are effective for helping smokers to quit. However, they are not entirely risk-free and as such are not recommended for non-smokers, including youth. This neatly designed study addresses a key question in the field: how can we make e-cigarettes available and attractive as a less harmful alternative for adult smokers while discouraging uptake among young people who have never smoked?

“The authors looked at whether removing the branding from vape packaging could make these products less appealing to youth. The results suggested young people would be less interested in trying e-cigarettes sold in plain packaging compared with branded packaging. Meanwhile, the packaging style appeared to have little impact on adults’ interest in trying the products. These findings indicate that requiring e-cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging could help to reduce their appeal to youth (and potentially uptake of vaping) without any adverse effect on appeal among adults.

“In the UK, plain packaging requirements for cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco have been in place since 2017 – and data suggest smoking rates have fallen as a result – so there’s precedent for this type of intervention. But while cigarettes look very similar across brands (meaning packaging is the main opportunity for branding), e-cigarette devices come in a wide range of shapes and colours which may still appeal to young people once the packaging is removed. So while standardising packaging may go some way towards reduce e-cigarettes’ appeal to youth, it’s likely to only be part of the puzzle.”



‘Interest in Trying E-Cigarettes with Branded and Standardised Packaging Among Youth and Adults in Great Britain’ by Eve Taylor et al. was published in JAMA Network Open at 4pm UK TIME on Tuesday 14 March 2023.



Declared interests

Dr Sarah Jackson: “No conflicts to declare.”

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