Targeting smokers via tobacco product labelling : opportunities and challenges for Pan European health promotion

Devlin, E and Anderson, S and Hastings, G and Macfadyen, L (2005) Targeting smokers via tobacco product labelling : opportunities and challenges for Pan European health promotion. Health Promotion International, 20 (1). pp. 41-49. ISSN 0957-4824

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Abstract

Cigarette on-pack messages are one of the principal vehicles for informing smokers about the risks of smoking and research has highlighted their role as a valid health communication tool. Furthermore, they have the potential to disrupt the powerful cigarette brand imagery associated with tobacco packaging. Responding to concerns within Europe that the old style on-pack messages were ineffective and the introduction of new tobacco product legislation across Europe (EU Directive 2001/37/EC), this study was conducted to explore European smokers' response to the changes. The research draws upon two main areas of health communication: the need to pre-test messages to ensure they are appropriate for their intended audience; and the increased effectiveness of targeting messages to specific segments of the population. Two main research areas were addressed. First, the extent to which the new messages were appropriate for smokers in Europe and second, the potential to provide targeted and personally relevant messages to smokers via tobacco packs. Fifty-six focus groups were conducted across seven European countries (Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Sweden and the UK) with 17-64-year-old smokers, half of whom were not thinking about quitting (pre-contemplators) and half of whom were thinking of quitting in the next 6 months (contemplators and preparers). Implications for future labelling practices within Europe are discussed.