Study Compares Old Cigarette Packages To New Regulation Designs

Huddersfield researches used 'eye-tracking' method to determine the effectiveness of health warnings on new Cigarette packaging.

January is the month of getting those resolutions you made at New Years off to a start. With stopping smoking being on many people's agenda this month, researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been using eye trackers to study the effectiveness of the health warnings on the new regulation design of cigarette packets.

In 2016, regulations were introduced in the UK that insisted that health warnings - which consists of text and pictures. has to occupy 65 per cent of cigarette and tobacco packaging. The name and the brand must be printed in a low key, standard style, against a dull brown background. As previous research found that smokers (particularly heavy smokers) diverted their attention to the branding rather than the warnings. 

A team of lecturers from the Department of Psychology at Huddersfield University - Dr Chris Retzler, Dr. Jenny Retzler and PhD researcher Nazanin Shiraj - wanted to know whether the new designs had the intended effect.

Their method of finding this out was to use eye trackers to see where their attention was diverted to when shown the different packs. 

47 adult smokers - aged between 19 and 58 - including light smokers and heavy smokers, were shown images of both pre-regulation, and post-regulation packs on a computer screen. The eye-tracker recorded what part of the packaging they were looking at.

The lecturers said. "Eye-movement analysis revealed that for pre-regulation packs, smokers fixated more on the branding than the warnings. This pattern was reversed for the post-regulation packs, suggesting that the recent regulations have been effective in reducing attention to brands and increasing attention to warnings."

Dr Chris Retzler said that "They'd smoked for so many years that they just wanted to ignore the outcome,"

"But we didn't find any effect of that with the new packs. We looked at whether attention to either branding or the health warning varied as a function of how much they smoked, and there was no relation, which is good news for these changes."

If you'd like to read more about their findings, you can read their journal article by following the link below.


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