Effects of plain packaging on decision-making and reward for nicotine cigarettes
Laura E Martin1,2
1Hoglund Brain Imaging Center, 2Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA
Abstract: Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. Efforts to reduce smoking prevalence include changes to policies that are expected to have impacts on smoking behaviors. Plain packaging has been introduced as a method to reduce the appeal of smoking by removing such branding information as pack colors and brand logos from cigarette packages. Behavioral studies of plain packaging demonstrate reductions in the appeal of cigarette packages, changes in smoking behaviors, and expected reductions in smoking initiation. Neuroimaging studies of branding demonstrate that the neural systems of rewards and cognitive control are associated with processing brand information (eg, logos). Neuroimaging studies in smokers demonstrate that the neural systems of reward respond to images of cigarettes and are associated with reductions in cognitive control responses. The current review discusses the state of research on plain packaging in terms of a biopsychosocial model of addiction in which behavioral studies of plain packaging can identify psychological and social changes related to packaging, whereas neuroimaging studies can identify biological changes underlying the psychological and social impacts of packaging. Together, these studies show that plain packaging may reduce positive perceptions of smoking by reducing related reward responses in the brain, thus increasing the likelihood that smokers will be able to resist the urge to smoke, and perhaps quit smoking altogether.
Keywords: smoking, plain packaging, neuroimaging, branding, reward
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