Young people in NSW and Queensland are less likely to smoke as a result of cigarette plain packaging, an Australian-first research paper reveals.
The research by the Cancer Institute NSW, published in the Journal of Tobacco Control, also shows plain packaging is encouraging young smokers to start efforts to quit.
Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, is a co-author on the research study. He says it provides new evidence plain packaging is working.
“The key to a smoke-free future is preventing our young people from taking up smoking in the first place,” Professor Currow says.
“This was one of the aims of the plain packaging legislation, and for the first time we have evidence that it is achieving this goal.
“This is great news, not just for Australia, but for other countries which have implemented or are planning to implement plain packaging.”
Plain packaging of cigarettes was introduced in Australia in December, 2012.
What does the paper show?
A third (31 per cent) of teens aged 12-17 who have smoked occasionally or previously quit, say plain packs make them less likely to smoke again.
Additionally, one in five (18 per cent) of teenagers aged 12-17 who have never smoked are now less likely to start because of plain packaging.
Support for plain packaging among young people is also growing, with 60 per cent of 12-17 year olds and 67 per cent of 18-24 year olds supporting the measure.
The study includes data collected over four years and two states, with telephone surveys via both landline and mobile.
Time to quit
As a result of cigarette plain packaging, 33 per cent of 18-24 year-old smokers either tried to quit, or thought about quitting.
The study also shows young people are less comfortable with the image of smoking, with current smokers being more likely to hide packs from view.
As reported in January, research from the Cancer Institute NSW and NSW Health show youth smoking rates in NSW have never been lower.
Why does plain packaging work?
Plain packaging removes logos, colours, brand images and promotional information from cigarette packages.
It makes all packs a standard colour, with a standard font, and it features a large, graphic health warning.
Having packs in an unpleasant colour and void of logos removes brand appeal from cigarettes, reducing attractiveness to consumers, most importantly young people.
It’s a long-term public health measure designed to work as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in NSW, and the biggest contributing risk factor to cancer.
For help and information on how to quit smoking visit www.icanquit.com.au or call Quitline NSW on 13 QUIT (13 78 48).