TIME Addiction

Plain Cigarette Packs May Deter Smokers, Studies Show

Cigarette Pack
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Largely based on findings in Australia, which removed branding from tobacco packaging two years ago

Tobacco packaging without labels or branding may keep new smokers away and prevent habitual smokers from lighting up regularly, a new series of studies finds.

According to the studies, published in the journal Addiction, there is growing evidence that plain packages of cigarettes and other tobacco products reduce smoking rates and reduce outdoor smoking. The findings are largely based on evidence noted in Australia, where the government removed labels from cigarette packages and added graphic health warnings to packs two years ago.

The studies also show that by removing the branding, young experimental smokers focus more on the health warnings on the package — though it found the impact on daily young smokers is minimal.

“Even if standardized packaging had no effect at all on current smokers and only stopped 1 in 20 young people from being lured into smoking it would save about 2,000 lives each year,” Addiction editor-in-chief Professor Robert West said in a statement.

Addiction published the series just months before the U.K. Parliament votes on standardizing tobacco product packaging, following in the footsteps of Australia. The government is already facing fierce backlash from tobacco companies in response to the law, Reuters reports.

John Oliver brought up Australia’s law in his segment on tobacco marketing on this week’s Last Week Tonight:

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