Adult smokers’ perceptions of cigarette pack inserts promoting cessation: a focus group study

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Abstract

Introduction

Tobacco companies have a long tradition of including promotional material within cigarette packs, such as cigarette cards and coupons. Only in Canada are they required, by the government, to include educational material within cigarette packs, in the form of inserts highlighting the benefits of quitting or providing tips on how to do so.

Methods

Twenty focus groups were conducted in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2015, with smokers (n=120) segmented by age (16–17, 18–24, 25–35, 36–50, >50), gender and social grade, to explore perceptions of the inserts used in Canada.

Results

The consensus was that these inserts would capture attention and be read due to their novelty and visibility before reaching the cigarettes, and as they can be removed from the pack. While they may be ignored or discarded, and rotation was considered necessary, they were generally thought to prolong the health message. The positive style of messaging was described as refreshing, educational, encouraging, reassuring and inspirational and thought to increase message engagement. It was regarded as more sympathetic than command-style messaging, offering smokers ‘a bit of hope’. The inserts were often considered preferable to the on-pack warnings, although it was felt that both were needed. Some participants suggested that inserts could encourage them to stop smoking, and they were generally viewed as having the potential to alter the behaviour of others, particularly younger people, would-be smokers and those wanting to quit.

Conclusions

Inserts are an inexpensive means of communication and offer regulators a simple way of supplementing on-pack warnings.

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