Advertisement that attacked plain packaging was misleading, rules watchdogBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4900 (Published 30 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4900
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Yet again, the results of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s National Drugs Strategy Household Survey 2013 have been misinterpreted [1,2]. These show that the prevalence of current smoking fell from 15.1% in 2010 to 12.8% in the latter half of 2013 . Although this decline is greater than in the previous three years, it is simply wrong to conclude that it is the effect of implementing standardised packaging in December 2012 - it is actually the continuation of a secular trend that began 20 years ago.
While I strongly favour the introduction of standardised packaging and any other measures designed to make smoking less attractive, I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that the Australian implementation in 2012 is directly responsible for a "massive decline". I hope this will be the case, but it is too early to conclude this from the evidence.
These positive trends however should encourage the UK government to learn lessons from Australian experience (particularly the gimmickry to which the tobacco industry has resorted) in extending regulation to the precise numbers, length and appearance of cigarettes in each packet. This will ensure that false perceptions of brand quality and health risk are removed as far as possible .
 O'Dowd A. Advertisement that attacked plain packaging was misleading, rules watchdog. BMJ 2014;349:g4900
 Kmietowicz Z. Australia sees large fall in smoking after introduction of standardised packs. BMJ 2014;349:g4689
 National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
 International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer: Submission to Sir Cyril Chantler’s review of Standardised Packaging of Tobacco. December 2013
Competing interests: No competing interests