Introduction: Dissuasive cigarettes, cigarettes with an unappealing colour or displaying a health warning label, may deter young people from smoking uptake.
Methods: Two online surveys were conducted with non-smokers aged 12-17 to explore perceptions of cigarette appeal, harm and product trial. Study 1 was a within-subject study which examined perceptions of four cigarettes with different coloured paper, and four cigarettes displaying a warning. Study 2 was a between-subject study (with limited power), in which respondents were randomized to one of four cigarettes: (1) regular cigarette; (2) least favourable warning from Study 1; (3) least favourable colour from Study 1; or (4) a combination of the least favourable warning and colour from Study 1. Warnings or colours were considered least favourable when they had lower scores on appeal, harm, and product trial.
Results: In Study 1, a cigarette featuring the warning 'cancer, heart disease, stroke' and a drab dark brown cigarette were rated lowest on appeal and trial intentions, and highest on perceived harm. In Study 2, there were no significant differences in perceptions of appeal, harm or trial intentions between the regular and dissuasive cigarettes.
Conclusions: Findings from our within-subject study suggest that a cigarette displaying the text 'cancer, heart disease, stroke' and a drab dark brown coloured cigarette are most dissuasive for Dutch non-smoking adolescents. Whether dissuasive cigarettes reduce appeal, reduce product trial, or increase perceptions of harm compared to a regular cigarette should be further examined in larger between-subject studies.