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New funding to use eye-tracking to evaluate Colombian tobacco control policies

17 December 2018

Along with colleagues in Colombia, Olivia Maynard has been awarded a University of Bristol Global Challenges Research Fund pump-priming grant to evaluate potential new Colombian tobacco control policies.

Smoking causes 13% of adult deaths in Colombia and the prevalence of smoking among children is higher than in other middle-income countries. Olivia will use her established eye-tracking methodology to investigate the impact of standardised tobacco packaging on visual attention to health warnings among Colombian smokers and non-smokers. This work has been developed in collaboration with colleagues at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the University of Bath and is supported by the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection.

In countries such as the UK, New Zealand, Norway and Australia, where standardised packaging has been implemented, there is evidence that it 1) makes smoking less appealing, especially among young people, 2) increases warnings noticeability, 3) prevents people from being misled about the health risks of smoking and 4) leads to smoking cessation. However, before standardised packaging was introduced in any of these countries, the tobacco industry argued that there was insufficient ‘objective’ evidence to support its introduction. In order to anticipate these tobacco industry arguments, the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection have been asked by the Colombian Government to provide ‘local evidence’ for the impact of larger warnings and standardised packaging among smokers and non-smokers. The work conducted by Olivia and her team will help to develop this evidence base. 

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