Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Plain packaging for cigarettes will see the end of some wickedly wonderful marketing

Another nail in the coffin for the tobacco industry, then, if not for its untapped markets. Should the Government get its way, the ability to buy the smoke you prefer – already hampered in supermarkets by shuttered cabinets that prevent you from viewing the full range – will be further curtailed by the introduction of plain packaging for fags and baccy. The idea is not to make smokers feel like social lepers, though brown wrappers do rather smack of the Soho sex shop, but to weaken the bonds of loyalty between addict and pusher; and to denude the products of any attractive associations that may still cling to them.

The smoking lobby may argue that, however impressionable the youth, they can resist striking colours and distinctive typefaces, which are now just about their only means of communication with the public (and even then with grisly pictures of shrivelled lungs and terrible health warnings). Their opponents would reply that, if the branding doesn’t matter, then why not dispense with it?

This approach ignores the fact that, while smokers in dire need will pull on anything to reduce the craving, they are loyal to their brand’s taste as well as the “values” implied by its wrapping. (And yes, abstainers, different cigarettes do have different tastes, from the toasty hit of a Marlboro Red to the creamier feel of a blue Pall Mall.) It also relies for support on statistics from Australia that are hotly contested.

The plain brigade claims that the number of smokers on the continent who daily drag on tax-legal fags has declined. The tobacco giants reply that household expenditure on tabs has actually increased. The legit business says that tax-evading smuggling and (even more dangerous) counterfeiting are on the rise in Oz, the government disputes that. And your correspondent? I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the far-off Fifties, when cigarette marketing was unregulated: when Consulates were “cool as a mountain stream” and “more doctors smoke[d] Camel than any other cigarette”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>