So this week, the government announced that plain packaging on cigarettes is the way forward. By 2015, this concept will be brought to life. They planned on sticking graphic, gruesome pictures of body parts ruined by smoking on packs with slogans that shout something along the lines of: ‘THIS IS WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU SMOKE, YOU DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS’ (slightly veering off-topic but I do love that film), but now it’s plain packaging all the way.
Now I do not smoke but I know people that do and they cannot see the logic in this idea. ‘It won’t stop people from smoking,’ they said. ‘If anything, it might glamorise it.’ One of my friends was worried about how shopkeepers will be able to identify the different brands through the identikit white boxes. ‘Will they have the brand colours in each box or something?’ he queried. Plus, he was concerned that some unscrupulous shopkeepers will dupe the likes of him. For example, he asks for one brand, pays his money and the man behind the counter craftily gives him a different kind instead as he won’t be able to tell the difference until he takes a drag on his cigarette, by which time it’s too late. He was seething at the possibility of this happening.
As previously stated, I am not (and never have been) a smoker and I’m not normally sympathetic to their plight, but this rebranding business won’t work. The government seem to think all smokers are dim and cannot think for themselves. The main things my friends look for when choosing their nicotine fix are the cost and value for money; they’re not fussed by the brand name and certainly not the colours. As for thinking plain packaging will deter potential smokers from lighting up- not a chance. It will give it an air of intrigue: ‘Ooh, look at that! Cigarettes in white, slightly sinister looking boxes. Like something out of prohibition. I feel so rebellious!’
In my opinion it is a waste of money and energy to go down this path. Besides if the government really gave a damn about the perils of smoking, they would have banned it by now. But no- tobacco industry and sales of cigarettes create a bucketload of revenue for the Treasury, so it won’t be outlawed anytime soon.
© G. Holder 2013