Current Projects

A synthesis review of research exploring the response of consumers, the tobacco industry and retailers to standardised packaging in the UK
PIs: Crawford Moodie, Allison Ford, Martine Stead, University of Stirling


The ‘Standardised Packaging and Tobacco Products Regulations’ and ‘Tobacco Products and Related Regulations’ have transformed the appearance of cigarette packaging in the UK. Following a 12 month transition period, from May 2017 all cigarettes in the UK, whether factory-made or hand-rolled, must be sold in standardised packs. The policy is intended to discourage initiation, encourage cessation, help ex-smokers avoid relapse, and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke by reducing the appeal of cigarettes, increasing the effectiveness of on-pack warnings, reducing the ability of packs to mislead consumers about smoking harms, and having a positive effect on smoking attitudes, beliefs, intentions and behaviours. In 2011 the Department of Health commissioned, through the PHRC, a systematic review of research on standardised packaging to accompany the UK Government’s consultation in 2012. Through the PHRC, in 2019 we conducted a systematic review exploring how consumers, the tobacco companies and retailers responded to standardised packaging in the UK. We now propose an update to this review to include subsequent evidence published since February 2019. The update we propose, together with our recent systematic review, will be central to the evidence included in the Department of Health and Social Care’s post-implementation review (2021).


The aim is to synthesise findings from research exploring consumer, tobacco industry or retailer response to standardised packaging of tobacco products that has been conducted since February 2019.


Consistent with our previous review of research in the UK exploring the impacts of standardised packaging, our search strategy will include searches for peer-reviewed studies in the academic literature from generic and topic-specific electronic databases and contact with individuals who had previously been involved in work on tobacco packaging in the UK. Grey literature non-peer reviewed reports identified in the searches will be excluded from the synthesis but we will explore the option of summarising their scope and key findings in an appendix. The search strategy will involve systematic searches for peer-reviewed studies in the academic literature. The search terms will be a combination of tobacco-related terms, packaging-related terms and terms for the UK. In addition, we will contact individuals who had previously been involved in work on tobacco packaging in the UK to gauge awareness of research that had not been retrieved in the searches.

Different appraisal tools will be used, depending on the type of study being assessed. This will include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  1. Qualitative analysis of interview or focus group data
  2. Quantitative analysis of sales data
  3. Quantitative analysis of participant data (e.g. survey data, experimental data)
  4. Structured observations of documents or places.

The findings of the review will be compared to findings of our previous reviews, highlighting the new insights provided by the most recent evidence and identifying areas of complementarity and divergence. Key learning points for the policy implementation review will be identified.

The findings will help inform the Department of Health and Social Care’s Post-Implementation Review of the impact of standardised packaging in 2021.

Reseach Team

Crawford Moodie

Allison Ford

Martine Stead