Eye movement data reveal increased attention to combined health warnings on cigarette packs

Chris Retzler, Nazanin Shiraj, Jenny Retzler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In 2016 the UK introduced standardised pack design regulations, limiting branding and aiming to increase the salience of health warnings. Existing evidence suggests that the effectiveness of pack design in focusing a smoker’s attention toward warnings may depend on how much they smoke. Our study aimed to directly compare attention to branding and warnings between the pre-regulation and post-regulation packs in smokers, and to determine whether this was affected by the amount smoked, to assess the effectiveness of the new policies.

47 adult smokers were recruited, including daily and non-daily smokers to ensure a wide range in cigarettes smoked per week. Eye movement data were recorded while images of cigarette packs were displayed sequentially on screen. Each trial presented one of two types of cigarette pack; pre-regulation packs with a text health warning, or post-regulation packs compliant with governmental guidance introduced in 2016, with plain branding and a combined pictorial and text health warning. Eye movement data were compared between packs, covarying the number of cigarettes smoked per week.

Eye movement analysis revealed that smokers attended more to health warnings and less to branding when looking at post-regulation packs compared with pre-regulation packs. These effects did not relate to number of cigarettes smoked per week.

Standardised regulations for cigarette packs successfully direct smokers’ attention away from branding, and towards health warnings, with no association with cigarettes smoked per week. This study adds to the growing body of evidence advocating broader uptake of similar packaging regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-340
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Early online date17 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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