Plain packaging increases visual attention to health warnings on cigarette packs in non-smokers and weekly smokers but not daily smokers


Marcus R. Munafò, School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 12a Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TU, UK. E-mail:


Aims  To assess the impact of plain packaging on visual attention towards health warning information on cigarette packs.

Design  Mixed-model experimental design, comprising smoking status as a between-subjects factor, and package type (branded versus plain) as a within-subjects factor.

Setting  University laboratory.

Participants  Convenience sample of young adults, comprising non-smokers (n = 15), weekly smokers (n = 14) and daily smokers (n = 14).

Measurements  Number of saccades (eye movements) towards health warnings on cigarette packs, to directly index visual attention.

Findings  Analysis of variance indicated more eye movements (i.e. greater visual attention) towards health warnings compared to brand information on plain packs versus branded packs. This effect was observed among non-smokers and weekly smokers, but not daily smokers.

Conclusion  Among non-smokers and non-daily cigarette smokers, plain packaging appears to increase visual attention towards health warning information and away from brand information.