The cigarette box as an advertising vehicle in the UK

The cigarette box as an advertising vehicle in the United Kingdom: A case for plain packaging

From Journal of Health Psychology

Approximately 100,000 people die of a smoking-related illness every year in the UK.  Researchers at the University of Surrey are encouraging the UK government to follow in the footsteps of Australia, which is the first country to introduce compulsory plain packaging for tobacco products. Health campaigners are now urging the UK government to stop stalling and introduce plain packaging as soon as possible as any delay will cost lives as it is argued that the sale of cigarettes in unbranded packs should make tobacco less appealing and encourage smokers to quit.

This research aimed to study tobacco advertising between 1950–2003 and to evaluate the role of the cigarette box in advertising. As part of the study forty UK print advertisements from each decade were selected from an archive that contained 1500 tobacco advertisements using a random number generator.  The findings from the study indicate the tobacco companies increasingly used the cigarette box in their advertising particularly as policies to limit their advertising were being introduced.  Results also showed that the cigarette box has become iconic to each manufacturer and remains a vehicle for advertising and an object through which smokers express their identity; without realising it smokers have become walking adverts for the brand they smoke.

 

Abstract

This research aimed to study tobacco advertising between 1950–2003 and to evaluate the role of the cigarette box in advertising. Tobacco company advertisements (n = 204) were coded for content and meanings used to promote their product. There was a significant shift from cigarettes being displayed to the cigarette box only. Changes in advertising and the meanings evoked were unrelated to changes in smoking behaviour. It is argued that the cigarette box has absorbed the meanings associated with smoking and has become an effective vehicle for advertising. It is also argued that this can only be minimised with plain packaging.

 

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Article details
Michaela Dewe, Jane Ogden, and Adrian Coyle
The cigarette box as an advertising vehicle in the United Kingdom: A case for plain packaging J Health Psychol 1359105313504236, first published on October 22, 2013 doi:10.1177/1359105313504236

 

     
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