Plain packaging is the practice of giving all brands of cigarettes the same bland, nondescript packaging. No unique logos, no eye catching colors, no different typefaces- everything looks the same. This may seem like an odd public health move, but we underestimate how packaging design changes the way we see products.


Cigarette smokers were asked about how safe they thought different brands of cigarettes with different packaging types seemed. Some had branding and color removed, some had these removed and a graphic health warning added, and others had no changes. The participants thought that cigarettes with regular packaging seemed safer than those without. Cigarette brands use catch words like ‘natural’ or ‘smooth’ to make buyers think their products are healthier than others. Use of specific colors on packaging can also change how people perceive product safety. In reality, there is no such thing as a ‘safe cigarette’ and all cigarettes, no matter what the brand, are lethal. Currently, only France, Australia, and the United Kingdom legally require all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

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