562 Standardised packaging reduces tobacco use

November 30, 2017

written by Brian R McAvoy.

Clinical Question

How effective is standardised tobacco packaging (STP) on tobacco use uptake, cessation and reduction?

Bottom Line

There was consistent evidence for the impact of STP on some outcomes. Limited evidence from one study suggested that STP could lead to decreases (0.5%) in smoking prevalence. There was also limited evidence suggesting STP might increase quit attempts, and mixed evidence on consumption. STP was less appealing to youth and adults, and, for most studies, using a variety of measures, it was associated with decreased intention to smoke. STP reduced how appealing people found the packs compared with branded packs.


No studies reported on cessation or relapse prevention. There were no published peer-reviewed behavioural studies on the impact of STP on smoking uptake, the key primary outcome for non-smokers.

Tobacco use is the largest single preventable cause of death and disease worldwide. STP is an intervention intended to reduce the promotional appeal of packs and can be defined as packaging with a uniform colour (and in some cases shape and size) with no logos or branding, apart from health warnings and other government-mandated information, and the brand name in a prescribed uniform font, colour and size. Australia was the first country to implement STP in 2012, France implemented it in 2017 and several other countries are implementing, or intending to implement STP.

Cochrane Systematic Review
McNeill A et al. Tobacco packaging design for reducing tobacco use. Cochrane Reviews, 2017, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD011244.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD011244.pub2. This review contains 51 studies involving approximately 800,000 participants.

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.