Britain is looking at eradicating labeling from cigarettes:

“The government accepts that packaging and tobacco displays influence young people, so there is no time to waste. It may take years to pass a new law on plain packs but the law on tobacco displays is already on the statute books and comes into force next year.”

Dr Alan Maryon-Davis, professor of public health at Kings College London, said: “It’s a very welcome statement from the health secretary and a good example of how the government can help people choose a healthier way of life by ‘nudging’ rather than nagging.”

But Simon Clark, director of Forest, a lobbying group that opposes smoking bans, described the move as a “cheap publicity stunt”.

He said: “There is no evidence that plain packaging will have any influence whatsoever on smoking rates. Also, the policy is designed to discriminate against smoking and stigmatise the consumer, which is totally wrong.”

Good.is does a mock-up. Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind that one bit. In fact, I consider it far preferable to the Australian method of putting graphic imagery on packs. I’ve thought to myself if the government ever does the latter, I will probably throw out the box upon purchase and put the cigarettes in something else. That probably means that it’s effective on some level. The Good.is mockups, though, wouldn’t phase me a bit.

More effective than that (though less effective than gangrene) would be to make them less rather than more plain. I don’t want to carry around a box that’s hot orange. Of course, part of the idea is for young people and they might be more likely to respond favorably to wild coloring. Of course, the boys will probably respond positively to gangrene as well. I was vociferously anti-smoking when I was 12, but I might have fished empty boxes out of the trashcan to see how many of the disease-boxes I could collect. Boys are like that.

Does packaging lure smokers? Well, there’s two questions. The first question is whether it entices people to smoke. That I’m not sure about, though it probably does have an effect on the margins. I’m not sure it has enough of an effect to justify the time it takes to enact this law, but maybe so. The second question is whether it entices people to choose a particular brand. It does. There are a lot of brands out there and two of the main brands I smoke, Maverick and USA Gold, got my attention with their box. Mavericks had, at the time, a really sleek black and gold box that was hard to miss. USA Gold had an interesting logo. However, while the packaging got me in the door, it was the taste that kept me there. With other off-brands, I never made it through the pack.

I am sure that the tobacco companies have some research on this. I wonder what it says. Given how opposed they are to the idea, maybe I am deeply underestimating the effects of packaging to youngsters. You might think that they’d be looking at this as a way out of paying marketers money without losing marketshare to the ones paying the marketers. But they don’t, either because it is effective or because they think their marketers are better than the other guys’.


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5 Responses to Make’em Puce

  1. web says:

    I remember a documentary on the tobacco industry I saw years ago. One portion of the documentary covered the heavy investment companies made into (a) making the cigs more addictive and (b) making their advertising as alluring and, often, subliminal as possible.

    For instance, the Marlboro Chevron, which the smoker subconsciously pins on as a badge when sticking it in their front pocket or tucked in their partly rolled-up sleeve.

  2. trumwill says:

    Interesting stuff, though I think the days of proudly showing off your cigarette packs (regardless of brand) are mostly over.

  3. Maria says:

    You shouldn’t smoke Will. It’s terribly aging, even for men, in addition to cutting years off of your life.

  4. trumwill says:

    When I was younger, I thought that smoking was the dumbest habit on the face of the earth. Then, I realized “OMG THIS IS WHY PEOPLE SMOKE!” and now I am stuck knowing that both of these are true…

  5. Maria says:

    All I can say is that I’m thankful I never smoked or did drugs whenever I see a picture of Melanie Griffith in the news. She’s only two years older than I am, but looks 20 years older. In fact, she looks older than her own mother, Tippi Hedren of “The Birds” fame, who’s in her seventies. She looks like crap on a stick.

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