Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 146–164 | Cite as

Cigarette pack labelling in 12 countries at different levels of economic development

  • Hassan Mir
  • Daniel Buchanan
  • Anna Gilmore
  • Martin McKee
  • Salim Yusuf
  • Clara K ChowEmail author
Original Article


With increasing restrictions on cigarette marketing, the cigarette pack itself has become a main means of marketing. We describe a method to examine cigarette labelling and use it to evaluate packs collected from 12 countries at different stages of economic development. Health warnings were present on all 115 packs of cigarettes examined, but were on the front and back panels of only 68 per cent. Promotional labels were widespread, found on packs from all countries and more numerous (although not necessarily larger) than health warning labels in 10 of the 12 countries. Deceptive terms such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ were observed on 42 per cent of all packs examined. The simple method described here can be used to compare cigarette labelling and potentially evaluate and track the implementation of cigarette labelling policy. We found health warning legislation poorly enforced and cigarette packs widely used to promote smoking and deceive smokers about health risks. The findings underline the need for generic (plain) packaging.


cigarette pack labelling promotional terms deceptive labels health warnings 



We thank the Investigators of the PURE study. 16 The teams lead by the following investigators contributed to the cigarette pack collection for this study: R. Diaz (Argentina), A. Avezum (Brazil), S Rangarajan (Canada), F Lanas (Chile), Li Wei (China), Mario Vaz (India), R. Kelishadi (Iran), R Iqbal (Pakistan), K. Yusoff (Malaysia), P. Lopez-Jaramillo (Colombia)


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hassan Mir
    • 1
  • Daniel Buchanan
    • 1
  • Anna Gilmore
    • 2
    • 3
  • Martin McKee
    • 2
  • Salim Yusuf
    • 1
  • Clara K Chow
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.Department for HealthUniversity of BathBathUnited Kingdom
  4. 4.The George Institute for Global Health, University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia

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