How anti-tobacco researchers cook the evidence
It’s called ‘research’, but investigations into Big Tobacco are increasingly a moral activity.
In a study recently published in the journal Tobacco Control, researchers asked a sample of young smokers about their views on the design of a range of cigarette packets (Borland et al, 2013). The researchers were interested in such things as how attractive the young smokers thought the different packs were, their views on the likely quality of the cigarettes the packs contained, and whether the physical design of the packs impacted in any way on the visibility of the now standard health warnings. Among other things, the researchers identified that the young smokers liked the ‘flip top’ opening on the packs and that this type of opening, in contrast to the various other type of openings used, detracted least from the health warnings on each packet.
On the basis of that précis, this sounds like standard market research – indeed, it sounds like research which the tobacco industry itself might have undertaken, keen to know what its consumers thought of the packaging of its products. But these were tobacco-control researchers, so their interpretation of their findings was nothing like anything a tobacco company might have come up with.
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