Fewer than half of UK smokers can name a specific feature of tobacco regulations coming into force next year, despite 80% of them being generally aware of imminent changes to packs, a study has revealed.

An online survey of adult smokers conducted by HIM Research & Consulting showed that while only 20% were completely unaware of any new tobacco legislation, most struggled to identify a specific part of it. For example, only 28% of smokers knew that 10-packs would be disappearing from the market, a similar proportion recognised that pictorial health warnings will cover 65% of pack designs, and only 17% knew that price-marked packs would no longer be legal.

Half of those questioned in the survey believe that retailers will increase tobacco prices once price-marked packs disappear, with only 18% saying they will stay the same. The abolition of smaller packs will lead to people smoking more say 21% of cigarette smokers, compared with 18% who say less, and RYO smokers (20% vs 16%).

When asked if their shopping habits will change when price-marked packs are no longer available, 32% of smokers said they would continue to use their usual outlet, while 22% said they would shop around more for the best price. One in seven (14%) also said they would be more likely to switch brands.

HIM communications director Katie Littler said: “Four-in-five of UK smokers are aware that new regulations come into effect in 2017, but they are unsure of the specifics. Lack of awareness about plain packaging and also minimum pack sizes are most likely to cause confusion among shoppers.

“Ensuring smokers are aware of these upcoming changes before they arrive will help ease the process for both shoppers and retailers.

“Some smokers, and retailers, are firm supporters of price marked packs. One-in-two smokers are concerned this will mean price increases on cigarettes which may lead to a significant proportion (22%) shopping around more for the best price and a smaller proportion (14%) even switching brands due to price.”