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An Analysis of Cigarette Packaging: A Case Study

Updated on April 19, 2012

In one article titled, ”Badge of dishonor: health advocates say plain-packaged cigarettes will turn off young smokers: other warn the experiment may backfire” from the Journal of the Addiction Research Foundation, a simple and clever hypothesis was devised. This article surmised that by establishing plain packaging for cigarettes, the number of cigarette smokers would decline. By removing the colorful packaging, not only would marketing become less effective, but would make cigarette smoking even less attractive to smokers of all ages.

The hypothesis in this article was that by changing the packaging, significantly fewer cigarette sales would be made. The alternate hypothesis would be considered that the cigarette packaging would not have an impact.

Two different studies were mentioned in the article. The first was an interesting social test that offered half price Marlboro cigarettes to 1,536 smokers in generic boxes. According to the statistics given, only one in five were interested inn purchasing the generic pack. That particular researcher easily concluded that with generic packaging, the appeal and sales of cigarettes would be reduced.

During a case study in Toronto, 129 youths were questioned regarding the topic of generic packaging versus regular packaging. Although perceived as “dull and boring”, one researcher indicated that the study had a flaw. By repackaging the cigarettes and creating mandatory generic packaging, many people would purchase them simply to rebel against authority; that by purchasing generic brand cigarettes, it would somehow make the purchaser a rebel.

Interestingly enough, the same case study offered a reward for participation. Each participant was offered a pack of generic or standard packaged cigarettes. While male participants were more likely to pick the generic packaging, females were shown to be a split decision. It should also be noted that many skeptics of this survey were quick to point out that the sample size was very small for a complete study (Badge of Dishonor).

While the jury is still out regarding the matter, statistically it will be a unique situation. The null hypothesis in one study was not rejected in regards to lowering the number of cigarettes based on packaging, while a similar hypothesis on the same subject was considered by some to have a Type II error based on sample size.

Only time will tell if a change in packaging will reduce cigarettes, however using null hypothesis testing, researchers at least have insight as to statistically how many fewer sales will be made.



(1994). Badge of dishonor: health advocates say plain-packaged cigarettes will turn off young smokers: others warn the experiment may backfire. The – Journal Addiction Research Foundation, 23(5), 12.


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