Our research on smoking

Our research on tobacco has focused largely on how altering physical environments might positively change behaviour, thereby aiding in or helping to sustain cessation attempts.


Why is reducing tobacco use important?

Click on the images below to find out more about the work we have been doing in this area.

Key Studies

  • The TIPPME intervention typology for changing environments to change behaviour, including smoking

    In this paper, we introduce a new framework we have developed: the Typology of Interventions in Proximal Physical Micro-Environments (TIPPME). This provides a way to classify and describe an important class of interventions to change selection, purchase and consumption of tobacco products.

    It has the potential to facilitate both the synthesis of cumulative evidence about the effects of interventions to change tobacco-related behaviours, and the identification and discussion of a broader range of interventions to be developed and evaluated.

    The TIPPME intervention typology for changing environments to change behaviour. Hollands, Bignardi, Johnston, Kelly, Ogilvie, Petticrew, Prestwich, Shemilt, Sutton & Marteau, 2017.

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  • Can the size of products, including tobacco, affect their consumption?

    shutterstock_41447758Our Cochrane systematic review has produced the most conclusive evidence to date that people consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware, but few eligible studies were identified concerning the size of tobacco products.

    We identified only three eligible studies, all examining the effect of cigarette length on consumption.A meta-analysis of these studies found low quality evidence that altering cigarette length had no impact on consumption.

    However, with an absence of high-quality studies and none that manipulated the size of cigarette packs, we are unable to highlight clear implications for tobacco policy due to gaps in the current evidence base.

    Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco. Hollands, Shemilt, Marteau, Jebb, Lewis, Wei, Higgins & Ogilvie. 2015.

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  • Children exposed to vaping ads are less likely to think occasional smoking is bad for health

    glamourWe assigned 564 British children to one of three groups where they either saw: adverts depicting e-cigarettes as glamorous; adverts depicting e-cigarettes as healthier alternatives to tobacco cigarettes; or no adverts (control group).

    Children shown the adverts were no more or less likely than the control group to perceive tobacco smoking as appealing and all three groups understood that smoking more than ten cigarettes a day was harmful.

    However, both groups of children exposed to the e-cigarette adverts, both healthy and glamorous, were less likely to believe that smoking one or two tobacco cigarettes occasionally was harmful.

    What is the impact of e-cigarette adverts on children’s perceptions of tobacco smoking? An experimental study. Petrescu, D, Vasiljevic, M, Pepper, JK, Ribisl, KM, Marteau, TM.

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  • Do candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes adverts encourage vaping among schoolchildren?

    maple-pancakesIn this experiment we assigned schoolchildren to one of three groups where they either saw: adverts for candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes; adverts for non-flavoured e-cigarettes; or no adverts (control condition).

    The children shown the ads for candy-flavoured e-cigarettes liked these ads more and expressed a greater interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes than children shown the non-flavoured ads.

    Importantly, showing the ads had no impact on the pre-existing low levels of appeal of smoking tobacco or using e-cigarettes – in other words, how attractive, fun or cool they considered the activities.

    Impact of advertisements promoting candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes on appeal of tobacco smoking amongst children: an experimental study. Vasiljevic, Petrescu & Marteau. 2016.

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  • Paying people to quit smoking: Potent but repugnant?

    cigarettes-621344_960_720In this commentary we discuss the findings from a large randomised controlled trial of four financial incentive schemes for smoking cessation, published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    We note the promising use of reward-based schemes (but not penalties) for promoting sustained quitting, particularly among the poorest thereby reducing health inequalities but argue that such schemes are unlikely to be used until efforts are made to increase their public acceptability.

    Public health: The case for pay to quit. Marteau & Mantzari. 2015. 

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  • Can financial incentives help people, especially pregnant women, to quit smoking?

    Financial incentives are effective in helping peoplehqdefault to change their unhealthy behaviours, including stopping smoking. It is not known whether these changes are maintained after incentives stop.

    This systematic review and meta-analysis showed financial incentives can motivate people, especially those from deprived backgrounds, to change behaviours that are bad for their health.

    The impact of financial incentives lasted maximum of three months after their removal and only when offered for stopping smoking, particularly during pregnancy.

    Personal financial incentives for changing habitual health-related behaviors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Mantzari, Vogt, Shemilt, Wei, Higgins, & Marteau. 2015.

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  • Does proximity and density of tobacco outlets impede quit attempts?

    Human fist breaking pack of cigarettes Anti smoking conceptA study from the US suggested people who live closer to tobacco outlets are less likely to successfully quit smoking.

    We replicated this study in the UK to see whether the close proximity, or density of tobacco outlets near smokers’ homes affected quitting success in both Birmingham and Bristol.

    In our study, neither of these factors affected whether people successfully quit smoking.

    Impact of tobacco outlet density and proximity on smoking cessation: A longitudinal observational study in two English cities. Han, Alexander, Niggebrugge, Hollands, & Marteau. 2013.

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  • How widespread are images of e-cigarettes?

    E-cigarettes may help smokers quit, but they also increase the quantity of smoking-related images in the public domain which may ‘re-normalise’ smoking.

    We carried out a study on shops across London and found evidence of widespread marketing and availability of e-cigarettes in-store.

    The sale and use of e-cigarettes  is likely to lead to more images of objects that look like cigarettes being shown, which could have the potential to re-normalise smoking.

    An observational study of retail availability and in-store marketing of e-cigarettes in London: potential to undermine recent tobacco control gains? Hsu, Myers, Ribisl & Marteau. 2013.

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  • Do interventions to change our environment reduce tobacco consumption?

    stop smokingWe carried out a systematic scoping review of studies investigating the effects of physical environment interventions on behaviours, including smoking. Such interventions include changing the packaging of cigarettes or reducing the number of outlets selling tobacco.

    Our review highlights that:

    • only 3.4% of the 346 studies identified related to tobacco use.
    • physical environment interventions are largely under-explored in terms of how they might reduce smoking.


    Altering micro-environments to change population health behaviour: towards an evidence base for choice architecture interventions. Hollands, Shemilt, Marteau, Jebb, Kelly, Nakamura, Suhrcke & Ogilvie. 2013.

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  • How acceptable do people find governmental tobacco interventions?

    Cigarettes seen closeup lying on a light background.We carried out the first systematic review of the literature on public attitudes to government interventions, including those aimed at reducing tobacco use. The review included 200 studies.

    People regarded interventions that targeted smoking as the most acceptable.

    This may be due to:

    • the majority of people in high income countries no longer smoking (and people preferring interventions that affect others and not themselves);
    • public awareness of the harms of smoking; and/or
    • recent tobacco control interventions (as public attitudes may change in response to legislation).


    Public acceptability of government intervention to change health-related behaviours: a systematic review and narrative synthesis. Diepeveen, Ling, Suhrcke, Roland & Marteau. 2013.

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Publications relating to smoking