The effect of branded versus standardized e-cigarette packaging and device designs: An experimental study of youth interest in vaping products


Gomes, M.N., Reid, J.L., Hammond, D. (2024). The effect of branded versus standardized e-cigarette packaging and device designs: an experimental study of youth interest in vaping products. Public Health, [Published online Mar 1, doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2024.02.001].


Objectives: Standardized ('plain') packaging is effective in reducing the appeal of cigarettes among young people. This study examined the impact of plain packaging and brand imagery on interest in trying ecigarettes among youth.

Study design: Experimental design.

Methods: Two online experiments were conducted in February 2020 as part of the ITC Youth Tobacco & Vaping Survey, conducted with 13,624 16- to 19-year-olds in Canada, England, and the USA. In the between-group Experiment 1, participants were randomized to view a set of 3 e-cigarette brands, in either their original external packaging ('branded' condition) or standardized olive-green packaging ('standardized' condition), and asked to select the product they would be most interested in trying. The within-group Experiment 2 examined brand imagery directly on devices, including potential differences in appeal among subgroups. Each participant viewed 4 pod-style e-cigarette devices: one 'plain' and 3 in colourful 'skins'. Logistic regression models were conducted to test the effect of condition, adjusting for demographics, smoking and vaping status.

Results: In Experiment 1, participants in the 'standardized' packaging condition were significantly more likely to indicate 'I have no interest in trying any of these products' (72.3%) than those in the 'branded' condition (66.9%, AOR 1.45, 95% CI 1.33-1.59). Experiment 2 results indicated differences in e-cigarette appeal by sex in the selection of male- and female-oriented designs, and by cannabis use for a Rastafarian-themed design.

Conclusions: Brand imagery on e-cigarettes can target products to specific subgroups. Removal of imagery, in the form of standardized packaging, has the potential to reduce interest in trying e-cigarettes among young people.