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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: What happened to smokers' beliefs about light cigarettes when "light/mild" brand descriptors were banned in the UK? Findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey
Author(s): Borland, Ron
Fong, Geoffrey T
Yong, Hua-Hie
Cummings, K Michael
Hammond, David
King, Bill
Siahpush, Mohammad
McNeill, Ann
Hastings, Gerard
O'Connor, Richard J
Elton-Marshall, Tara
Zanna, Mark P
Keywords: smoking
light/mild beliefs
descriptor ban
misleading terms
European Union
International Tobacco Control
Issue Date: Aug-2008
Citation: Borland R, Fong GT, Yong H, Cummings KM, Hammond D, King B, Siahpush M, McNeill A, Hastings G, O'Connor RJ, Elton-Marshall T & Zanna MP (2008) What happened to smokers' beliefs about light cigarettes when "light/mild" brand descriptors were banned in the UK? Findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey, Tobacco Control, 17 (4), pp. 256-262.
Abstract: Aim: This paper reports findings of an evaluation that examined how beliefs of smokers in the United Kingdom (UK) were affected by the removal of light and mild brand descriptors which came into effect on September 30, 2003 for Member States of the European Union (EU). Participants: The data come from the first 4 waves (2002-2005) of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation (ITC) 4 Country Survey, an annual cohort telephone survey of adult smokers in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, and Australia (15450 individual cases). Design: The UK ban on misleading descriptors occurred around the 2nd wave of data collection in the ITC survey, permitting us to compare beliefs about light cigarettes among adult smokers in the UK both before and after the ban, with beliefs in three other countries unaffected by the ban. Results: The findings reveal that high levels of misperceptions about light cigarettes existed among smokers in all four countries before and after the EU ban took effect. There was a substantial decline in reported beliefs about the benefits of Lights in the UK following the policy change and an associated public information campaign, but by 2006 (i.e., Wave 4), these beliefs rebounded slightly and the change in beliefs was no greater than in the United States, where there was no policy change. Conclusion: We cannot conclude that the policy which required removal of the misleading labels has been effective in changing beliefs about light cigarettes. What seems apparent is that efforts to correct decades of consumer misperceptions about light cigarettes will require more than simply removing brand descriptors.
DOI Link:
Rights: Published in Tobacco Control. Copyright: BMJ Publishing Group.; This article has been accepted for publication in TC following peer review. The definitive copyedited, typeset version, Tobacco Control, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp. 256 - 262, is available online at:

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