Do graphic tobacco warnings affect consumers’ perceptions of taste?

SmokingBadNoMy colleagues Greg Beck and Brian Wolfman have blogged here several times about the fight over the FDA's graphic cigarette warnings, which were invalidated by the D.C. Circuit on First Amendment grounds.  Other countries, however, are continuing to require graphic warnings. And now from Australia comes the fascinating news that the new graphic warnings there may already be changing consumers' perceptions of the way cigarettes taste:

Almost six months have passed since Australia
imposed one of the world’s toughest laws for cigarette warning labels,
swapping iconic packaging for graphic images of mouth ulcers, cancerous
lungs and gangrenous limbs.

And though experts say it is too soon to know what impact the law has
had on tobacco use, one thing is certain: Smokers think the cigarettes
taste off. Complaints started to roll in about the flavor of cigarette
brands almost immediately after the law went into effect on Dec. 1. That
could mean a lot for health advocates’ efforts to prevent smoking.

“Of course there was no reformulation of the product,” the Australian
health minister, Tanya Plibersek, said in an interview. “It was just
that people being confronted with the ugly packaging made the
psychological leap to disgusting taste.”

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