Tobacco companies, which can no longer use words such as ‘light’ ‘mild,’ or ‘low’ to attract smokers in the United States, are using package design elements to lure smokers, new studies suggest.
Researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, found that light or pastel colors on packages of ‘mild’ cigarettes create an illusion that the product is safe, HealthDay reports. The researchers surveyed 193 adults, who were shown six cigarette packages, which were changed to remove all descriptive wording. Participants were asked to identify which pack they would choose if they were concerned with health, tar, nicotine, image and taste. The smokers overwhelmingly chose the whitest pack if they were concerned about health, tar and nicotine, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
In a second study by the same researchers, smokers and nonsmokers were shown 12 sets of cigarette packs. Each set varied by a particular design feature, such as color, description or warning label style. Participants were more likely to choose packs with lighter color, and descriptions such as ‘silver’ and ‘smooth,’ as delivering less tar, smoother taste and lower health risk, compared to darker-shaded or ‘full-flavor’ packs.
The study authors conclude that removing descriptor terms but not the associated colors is not enough to eliminate the misperceptions about the risks of smoking communicated to smokers through packaging.