Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Plain packaging

The trouble with writing a draft while you think about it is that you then forget about it.  So here we are, several weeks after the debate in the UK press about selling cigarettes in plain packaging.  Indeed, here we are, with a vote in the House of Commons in favour of plain packaging, from May 2016.

The Netherlands is about to do the same,  although the packaging will not be "plain", but have unsavoury pictures of the disorders due to smoking.  Actually, neither perhaps will be the English packets (the vote applied to England only), as the Guardian reports that the packaging will have "graphic health warning images".

Australia already has introduced such packaging, and there is some discussion in the first Guardian piece linked to above about how effective it has been.  And in this piece, which also references the Chantler report prepared for the UK government, but now archived.  The illustrations in that piece indeed suggest the "plain" packaging is like that proposed in the Netherlands, so with pictures of the effects.

So, is there any evidence in the medical literature that "plain" packaging reduces the number of smokers or cigarettes smoked?

This rough strategy, then limited to Clinical Trials, All, finds 13 references in Medline (search done 11th March 2015).  And 5 systematic reviews or meta analyses.

Smoking cessation/mt
Product packaging/ or packaging
(1 or 2) and 3

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