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Grant Details

Grant Number: 5R01CA261639-02 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Shadel, William
Organization: Rand Corporation
Project Title: The Impact of Standardized Tobacco Product Packaging on Young Adults in the Retail Environment
Fiscal Year: 2023


Tobacco packaging influences tobacco use behavior. Branded package characteristics like color and artwork are designed to command attention and to prompt consumers to have more favorable cognitions about a product’s flavor and its potential harms; and more favorable cognitions are related to increased tobacco use intentions and behavior. Standardizing tobacco packages is designed to diminish the favorable cognitions brought about by branded packages. In its most comprehensive form, standardized packages have a uniform drab color with the brand name and variant appearing in a uniform font size, type, and color in the same location on each package; no colors or artwork are permitted. By removing elements of packaging that influence perceptions of product flavor, safety, and tobacco product users, the hope is that the resulting packages will lose their influence on consumers. A comprehensive approach to standardizing tobacco product packaging is not possible in the United States because such an action would impinge on the tobacco industry’s First Amendment-protected commercial free speech rights and devalue longstanding trademarks. A more narrowly focused version of a standardized packaging regulation will be needed in order for it to be legally implemented in the US; for example, standardizing the color of a portion of tobacco packages while permitting the display of branded information on other parts of packages (i.e., partial color standardization). The proposed study will experimentally evaluate the extent to which partially standardizing the color of tobacco packaging influences tobacco use intentions among young adults who have varying levels of tobacco use experience. The retail environment is an important context in which to study standardized packaging because hundreds of branded tobacco product packages are prominently displayed on the tobacco power wall in this environment, and exposure to package-dense tobacco power walls influences use intentions. To model use intentions as a function of packaging standardization in a controlled retail setting, this research will utilize the RAND StoreLab (RSL), a life-sized replica of a convenience store. A condition that displays tobacco packages that have partial color standardization will be tested against two comparison conditions in a between-subjects design. Young adults will be randomized to shop in the RSL in one of three conditions (conditions are described by the percent of package surface area allocated to standardized color relative to trademark (®) branding). The partial color standardization condition will display packages that are 50% color standardized/50% ® branded. The two comparison conditions are: (1) 100% standardized/0% ® branded (fully standardized) and 0% standardized/100% ® branded (fully branded). Tobacco use intentions will be the dependent variable. Mediators (e.g., attention; perceived flavor and harms) and moderators (i.e., level of tobacco use) will also be tested. The results have the potential to provide first evidence of how partial color standardization influences important tobacco use outcomes.


Doing more with less: A proposal to advance cigarette packaging regulations in the United States.
Authors: Shadel W.G. , Martino S.C. , Setodji C.M. , Dunbar M. , Jenson D. , Wong J.C. , Falgoust G. .
Source: The International journal on drug policy, 2024 Feb; 124, p. 104308.
EPub date: 2024-01-06.
PMID: 38184903
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