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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(6), 2170-2180; doi:10.3390/ijerph8062170
Article

Socioeconomic Differences in the Effectiveness of the Removal of the “Light” Descriptor on Cigarette Packs: Findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Thailand Survey

1,* , 2
, 3
, 4
, 2
 and 5
1 Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 986075 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA 2 The Cancer Council Victoria, 100 Drummond Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia 3 Psychology Department, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L3G1, Canada 4 Propel Center for Population Impact, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L3G1, Canada 5 1382 Soi Panitchayakan 28, Charansanitwong 13 Rd, Thapra, Bangkokyai, Bangkok, 10600, Thailand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 April 2011 / Accepted: 8 June 2011 / Published: 14 June 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tobacco Smoking: Public Health, Science and Policy)
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Abstract

Many smokers incorrectly believe that “light” cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. To address this problem, many countries have banned “light” or “mild” brand descriptors on cigarette packs. Our objective was to assess whether beliefs about “light” cigarettes changed following the 2007 removal of these brand descriptors in Thailand and, if a change occurred, the extent to which it differed by socioeconomic status. Data were from waves 2 (2006), 3 (2008), and 4 (2009) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Thailand Survey of adult smokers in Thailand. The results showed that, following the introduction of the ban, there was an overall decline in the two beliefs that “light” cigarettes are less harmful and smoother than regular cigarettes. The decline in the “less harmful” belief was considerably steeper in lower income and education groups. However, there was no evidence that the rate of decline in the “smoother” belief varied by income or education. Removing the “light” brand descriptor from cigarette packs should thus be viewed not only as a means to address the problem of smokers’ incorrect beliefs about “light” cigarettes, but also as a factor that can potentially reduce socioeconomic disparities in smoking-related misconceptions.
Keywords: tobacco control policies; socioeconomic position; light cigarettes tobacco control policies; socioeconomic position; light cigarettes
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Siahpush, M.; Borland, R.; Fong, G.T.; Elton-Marshall, T.; Yong, H.-H.; Holumyong, C. Socioeconomic Differences in the Effectiveness of the Removal of the “Light” Descriptor on Cigarette Packs: Findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Thailand Survey. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8, 2170-2180.

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