Plain packaging leads to surge in Quitline calls
Researchers from the University of Sydney used a time series analysis to investigate the impact of plain packaging on smoking behaviour, as measured by the volume of calls to Quitline. They found that the number of calls had increased by 78% four weeks after plain packaging became compulsory in December 2012, from 363 calls per week to an estimated peak of 651 calls per week.
This increase was independent of potentially confounding factors such as cigarette price increases or anti-tobacco advertising activity.
In addition, the increase was comparable to the introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs in 2006, which saw an increase of 84%, from 910 calls per week to an estimated peak of 1673 calls 16 weeks later.
The impact of plain packaging has also continued for longer, decreasing at a rate of 14% per week from peak levels compared to 60% per week from peak levels for the introduction of graphic warnings.