SHORT REPORT
The package as a weapon of influence: Changes to cigarette packaging design as a function of regulatory changes in Canada
 
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Marketing and Behavioral Sciences Department, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Publication date: 2020-03-06
Submission date: 2019-11-01
Final revision date: 2020-01-15
Acceptance date: 2020-01-20
 
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(March):17
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Introduction:
Given existing regulations that ban the tobacco industry from engaging in traditional forms of advertising and require warning labels on cigarette packaging, we suggest that one response on the part of tobacco manufacturers has been to make alterations to design elements of cigarette packages themselves. The current research seeks to examine how cigarette manufacturers have altered elements of cigarette packaging in response to regulatory changes by the Government of Canada in 2011, which increased health warning sizes on cigarette packages from 50% of the principal display surface to 75%.

Methods:
Cigarette packages (n=1689) that had been on the market in Canada in the period 2001–2017 were examined and coded for package design elements including package innovation (size and package style), color (hue and saturation), and branding elements (use of iconography and variant names). Characteristics of pre-regulation packaging were then systematically compared to characteristics of post-regulation packaging.

Results:
Many of these packaging design elements, including package size and package style, primary and secondary hue, color saturation, use of variant label names, and use of iconography have systematically varied in response to regulatory changes in Canada. For example, we observed increases in the use of flip-top (vs slide and shell) packaging, the use of yellow, black and white as the focal color, incidence of color-themed variant names, and the use of female and crest-related logos.

Conclusions:
The evidence suggests that many packaging design elements have varied systematically along with regulatory changes in Canada.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors thank Health Canada for supplying the tobacco packages that were used in this research.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
The authors have each completed and submitted an ICMJE form for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. The authors declare that they have no competing interests, financial or otherwise, related to the current work. Both authors report personal fees and non-financial support from Health Canada, during the conduct of the study. Health Canada also provided the cigarette packages for the research. We note that they did not influence the conclusions of the research in any way.
FUNDING
This research was supported by Health Canada.
AUTHORS' CONTRIBUTIONS
WSW conducted most of the data analysis for the study. WSW and KW drafted and revised the manuscript.
PROVENANCE AND PEER REVIEW
Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
 
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