BY NICK CAVARRETTA
If you’re one to read the news, you’ve probably noticed that the hot topic of the day is the removing of branding from a packet. That’s right, I’m referring to the plain packaging for cigarette packets. Now seriously, they have done “studies” that show people will be more likely to to quit smoking if they don’t have a logo on the packet. Apparently we are more likely to hide the packet if it’s olive green. I laughed so hard when I heard this news. Today I took the subject to the street (well, my work place and social media). The most frequent comments were: “who cares?” and “how would a plain package make you stop smoking, isn’t it the cigarette itself that’s addictive?” And I for one agree. Taking away a logo from a cigarette package makes just about as much sense as forcing drug dealers to not stamp a picture on ecstasy pills so people don’t feel like getting high any more.Or not allowing an electronics company to brand their TV so kids are forced to go outside and play. Maybe w eshould try removing the branding from fridges so our obese society loses weight.
Today the Australian Government are waving their “we did something” flag very high, as they announce their victory in the High Court against tobacco companies. They’re now pushing the message through the media that other countries should follow their lead. Not to mention that this is an opportunity to portray the tobacco companies as evil corporations. Please show me a good corporation. Tobacco companies have been banned from sponsoring sporting events, advertising in magazines, or on television and public billboards. They’ve been forced to slap horrific images of people in some hardcore make-upon cigarette packs, making gangrene look more like frost bite. Then we forced corner shops to close the shutters on the cabinets containing cigarettes so people can’t make any new decisions about which brand of coffin nail they wish to burn and destroy their soul with. The right to branding was revoked. So have all these measures really stopped people from smoking? Back in 1945, 75% of males and 26% of females smoked. In 2010 statistics showed that the number had declined to 16.4% for males and 13.9% for females. But what about young smokers? After all, isn’t this new law about the children? Well, a 2008 a survey shows that teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 make up a high percentage of smokers: 6.9% of males and 7.7% of females smoke. It’s possible that plain packaging just reduce the number of female smokers, as most men simply don’t care about branding. Only time will tell.
On another side, this is a very good day for many underground businesses. They no longer have to try to forge the logo of a tobacco company. It’s easier than ever for people to push their illegal product into legitimate corner shops direct from the truck. Apparently the black market for cigarettes tripled last year and I’m not surprised, with pricing being pushed up and up. I remember a time when you could buy a packet of 30s for $6. Now a packet of 25s costs $16. All in just 10 years.
So with all that said, I still stand by my comment that in the long run, nobody will care what the packet looks like. This has been said before with the disease pictures, and before that it was the big block text. Maybe this time the “three strikes and you’re out” rule will come into play.
This article was picked up by the BBC and Nick spoke on radio about the subject. You can listen here: