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Plain packaging of cigarettes

This policy proposal is something I have long advocated.  The views of big tobacco – BAT and Phillip Morris – that there “is no credible evidence that plain cigarette packs reduce smoking but the move will instead add time to shop transactions and ultimately cost businesses money” are not plausible. Plain packaging hasn’t been tried in any country yet so evidence won’t be found.  The claim that it will add to transactions costs is false – as ASH points out, packs will still contain the name of the manufacturer.  I suspect that the big carcinogen deliverers are concerned that sales will drop off but, more than that, if they do this will be an invitation for countries around the world to emulate this genuinely innovative Australian policy.

We know that cigarette consumers (irrationally) choose pale or cool-coloured (blue-green) packs rather than bright red packs to reduce what they see as cancer risks. Pack design has an impact on decisions. Smokers identify with particular brands and the only way firms are left to advertise their products is by branding them in a particular way.  My guess is that plain packaging will reduce smoking and smoking-related deaths.  This is a welcome move and will, as part of a package, help in what should be the central community objective of eliminating smoking and bankrupting the carcinogen producers within this generation.

7 comments to Plain packaging of cigarettes

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Denyse Skipper – RSS, denyse skipper. denyse skipper said: Plain packaging of cigarettes: This policy proposal is something I have long advocated.  The views of big tobacco … […]

  • Isn’t it plausible that tobacco companies are upset not because they fear reduced sales overall, but because they think it will make it easier for new entrants to the market to compete on price rather than brand, costing them market share and reducing margins?

  • hc

    An astute observation Tom that I am sure is correct. Homogenising the packaging reduces their monopoly power and turns cigarettes into an undifferentiated commodity. It will hurt them.

  • Joanne Mcdonald

    I really don’t think anyone cares about the packets much

  • […] plain packaging The Institute of Public Affairs and other far-right groups  have objected to the plain packaging laws on cigarettes proposed by the Australian Government. The opposition is based on claimed infringement of the intellectual property rights of the […]

  • We must make attempts to counter those ads on radio I hear claiming the govt will waste millions on court cases and compensation – in fact it is more economic that paying for lung cancer operations and other health care costs, loss of life and productivity etc. Don’t let these tobacco companies blind the public and frighten them. I heard they have little or no case to defend, and the fact Australia would be the front runner tackling this issue is something to be proud of and worth as much if not more than any tax on carbon dioxide.

  • Eric Maujean

    Even if it has no effect on smokers, plain packaging is likely to reduce the attractivenes of cigarettes to people considering smoking. If it stops people starting smoking, the policy will be a success.

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