“Plain packaging reduced unconscious triggers to smoke,” BBC News reports.

This claim is based on two related experiments where smokers were either exposed to a picture of a branded pack of cigarettes, a picture of a plain pack (containing a graphic health warning), or nothing at all, and were asked to choose a reward of either chocolate or a cigarette.

Researchers found people exposed to the plain pack were, over time, 9% more likely to choose a chocolate reward compared with people exposed to the branded pack, so their consumption of cigarettes was reduced.

This study has inherent limitations, meaning we shouldn’t really count on seeing a similar reduction in smoking through the use of plain packaging in the real world, as the study’s authors acknowledge themselves.

Professor Marcus Munafò, a co-author of the study, explained: “In the natural environment, smoking may be governed by a whole range of factors … It is not clear to what extent plain packaging will reduce smoking when these other factors are at play.”

The biggest real-world experiment is already underway in Australia, where plain packaging was introduced by law in 2012. Recent information released by the Australian government does show a subsequent modest reduction in smoking rates.Contact us with your community, business or sport news. Phone 07581350321 or 07930717137

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