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CRUK Shares Policy Briefing

Cancer Research UK has shared a policy briefing on ecig packaging and retail appeal in Great Britain following two “in-depth studies”

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Cancer Research UK (CRUK) says that following a meeting with the theme of e-cigarette packaging, it is “excited” to share its policy briefing on e-cigarette packaging and retail appeal. CRUK has based its opinions on “two in-depth research reports by the University of Stirling (Moodie et al) and the University of York (Thirlway et al)”.

CRUK says that the two studies aimed to understand how far e-cigarette packaging adheres to the current regulations and what it is about the packaging that may appeal to different ages and vaping/smoking status. They also sought to explain, “how people perceive the current on-pack health warnings and what it is about disposables as a specific product type that may appeal to young people.”

The Moodie study involved, “a systematic analysis of 156 packs on sale in the UK in the second half of 2022, using a coding framework to document key packaging design and promotional features of e-cigarettes and refills and whether packaging meets the requirements specified by the TRPR.”

The study then put 70 people into focus groups to explore how they viewed vape packaging, “including flavour descriptors, health messaging, alternative risk messages, and possible further regulations on e-cigarette packaging.”

The Thirlway study interviewed 50 people and 10 vape shop staff.

Key findings according to CRUK:

  • Moodie et al found that although instances of e-cigarette packaging not complying with current regulation were limited, the legislation as it stands does not adequately prevent these products from appealing to young people.
  • In both studies, the main appeal of packaging was the colours – disposables in particular - that contributed to bright displays in-store and in shop windows.
  • The appeal of disposables was perceived to be related to high visibility in stores, small size (and therefore convenience and discretion), simplicity of use, and, in the Moodie et al study, also low price and lack of long-lasting odour.
  • However, across both studies, the key influences on purchasing for all ages were not related to packaging and were flavour, cost, convenience, and social factors.

CRUK says: “These findings suggest that further regulation will be needed to better prevent e-cigarettes from appealing to young people.

“Any future regulation aimed at protecting young people from taking up vaping will need to adequately consider the potential impact on how people who smoke perceive and use e-cigarettes, and on smoking rates more generally.

“Given that smoking remains the biggest cause of cancer and death in the UK, it is also important that regulation across tobacco and e-cigarettes is coherent and proportionate to their respective risks and is considered holistically to ensure the right balance is struck between protecting young people and reducing tobacco-related harms.”

Cancer Research UK makes the following recommendations:

  • In shop-display: The UK Government must investigate restrictions into where and how e-cigarettes can be displayed in shops.
  • Appearance: The UK Government should introduce measures to restrict certain packaging features, and review how flavours are described and how nicotine content information is presented.
  • Health warnings: Further evidence into relative risk messaging must be gathered to understand how best to reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes for young people without negatively impacting those who smoke.
  • Enforcement: Enforcement of existing age of sale and social media regulations for vaping must be improved. ‘Challenge 25’ should be made a legal requirement for all tobacco and e-cigarette sales across all UK nations.
  • Monitoring: The increase in young people using e-cigarettes must be monitored closely by governments across the UK so that any further proportionate action can be taken quickly


Moodie et al 2023 Improving our understanding of e-cigarette and refill packaging in the UK (September 2023)

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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