'Nearly 50 young adult smokers used non branded cigarette packets in everyday situations for two weeks.' The smokers were less keen than those in a control group to hand out cigarettes or have the packets on show. The researchers didn't take into account that if plain packaging were everywhere, people would be less self conscious about using tobacco in public places – bearing in mind that there is nowhere comfortable to do it publicly anyway. Admittedly this is only a report of the study (available in full to subscribers of the British Medical Journal) but no attempt is made to explain whether the subjects' smoking behaviour changed in private.
The research is also reported in the Scotsman here. This report focuses on 950 children interviewed during the study. Again with the proviso that we are looking only at a report of the study, some findings are quite breathtaking – for example:
It claimed 27 per cent of the 950 people questioned were susceptible to taking up smoking in the future because they failed to express a definite desire never to smoke.The people conducting this study seem a little out of their depth. Many people drastically change their expectations and preferences quite drastically between their teens and adulthood, often to their own surprise.
Dr Crawford Moodie's assertion that 'the study confirms the lack of appeal of plain packs, with the enjoyment and consumption of cigarettes being reduced'can be described as wishful thinking, based on the fanciful idea that smokers enjoy smoking because of the attractive packaging.
This is the current line-up on the BMJ's Tobacco Control periodical. In addition to Crawford Moodie's piece there is an editorial on plain packaging.