Public communication about tobacco product regulation


Status completed

Start Date

End Date


Developing public communication messages to increase the effectiveness of tobacco product regulation measures

Project title

What is the issue?

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in Australia. More than 2.7 million Australians currently smoke and there are large disparities in smoking rates across social, geographical, and cultural groups, and between those with and without comorbidities. Tobacco products contain additives and use design features that make smoking palatable and more addictive. The Australian Government’s Draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022 – 2030 proposes several actions to reduce the attractiveness and addictiveness of smoking, including options to regulate the ingredients in cigarettes (e.g., banning menthol) and to standardise the design and appearance of cigarette filters such as banning filters with flavour capsules, and filters that contain ventilation perforations in the tipping paper.

Smokers incorrectly assume that the regulated product (e.g., menthol cigarettes) must be more harmful than products that remain for sale (e.g., non-menthol cigarettes) and these types of misperceptions may dampen the potential impact of product regulation measures on quitting behaviours.

How did the project address the issue?

We investigated the extent to which regulating some attributes in tobacco products (i.e., menthol and flavour capsules, filter ventilation, nicotine content) give rise to misperceptions about the relative harmfulness of unregulated products; and investigated how public communication surrounding such regulation might be used to minimise these misperceptions and maximise the number of smokers who quit in response to product regulation measures.

Relevance for policy and practice

This project investigated whether public communication messages can enhance the impact of product regulation measures on encouraging smoking cessation by minimising consumer misperceptions about regulated and unregulated products.


Findings from this project will be used to facilitate equitable education to address potential unintended consequences of tobacco product regulation measures in Australia (and internationally), particularly necessary among the high prevalence groups more likely to currently be using the regulated products.



This project is funded by the NHMRC, Australian Government Department of Health, ACT Health, Cancer Council Australia, NSW Ministry of Health, Wellbeing SA, Tasmanian Department of Health, and VicHealth.