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Open Access Misleading Tobacco Packaging: Moving Beyond Bans on "Light" and "Mild"

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objectives: In this paper, we assess compliance of cigarette packaging with policies in 9 countries that ban misleading descriptors, assess the presence of other packaging design elements that are misleading to consumers, and identify policy loopholes. Methods: Cigarette packages were systematically collected in 9 countries between 2015 and 2017 – Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The packs were coded for banned misleading descriptors and other misleading packaging design elements. Descriptive analyses were conducted. Results: Overall, compliance with explicitly banned misleading descriptors is high across countries, with the exception of packs from Indonesia, where compliance is mod- erate. However, the use of other misleading packaging elements such as alternative descriptors (soft, smooth, mellow), select color descriptors (blue, gold, silver), and a slim pack shape are still widely used in packaging design across the 9 countries examined. Conclusions: Policies that include loopholes or allow for other misleading packaging design elements could weaken the impact of recommended misleading packaging and labeling regulations as laid out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Stronger provisions are needed and countries should consider comprehensive plain packaging.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 2020

More about this publication?
  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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