By: Victoria Parr
In 2011-2012, I had the opportunity to undertake the type of research that every social and government researcher dreams of….research aimed at bringing about widespread social change…research where we can actually see the results of our work.
My opportunity was in the research to determine the optimal design for the plain packing of tobacco products in Australia. After four very intensive months of research involving multiple projects with diverse methodologies, we had a pack design – font, size of health warning, and yes, that colour. I shared in the celebrations of my clients when Australia became the first country in the world to actually see plain packaging of tobacco products become a reality in December 2012, Pantone 448C became the colour of all tobacco products on Australian retail shelves.
So it was with great satisfaction that earlier this year, I was able to once again be involved in plain packaging in my current role at Latitude Insights. In August, Latitude conducted research among 500 teenagers to understand the impact of plain packaging of cigarettes. The work was commissioned by the British Heart Foundation to assist in demonstrating a case for similar legislation in the UK. It ran parallel to a similar study among 2000 teens in the UK.
The results showed a distinct difference on a number of impact measures from Australian teens to their British counterparts. The British survey showed that just 36% of UK teenagers were deterred by current packs compared to 48% in Australia. It also found that 1 in 10 British teenagers thought some cigarette brands were healthier than others. Comparatively, this figure was 1 in 20 among Australian teens.
After initially looking at the issue, the UK government decided to put a stop to all such measures in Britain in July, with the rationale being that they needed time to assess the impact such measures had in Australia. The strong interest by the media in the British Heart Foundation’s study has once again placed the issue in the public domain in that country. Here’s hoping that it helps to put it firmly back on the UK government agenda.
More details on the research can be found through the British Heart Foundation.