Category Archives: Plain Packaging

“Plain packaging” regulations for tobacco products: the impact of standardizing the color and design of cigarette packs.

Perspectives: Why the tobacco industry fears plain packaging

Tobacco control advocate Simon Chapman explains how this public health reform will work

In past months, Australian news audiences have been exposed to some exotic, presumed-extinct species on their screens and radios. After more than 15 years, the tobacco industry dodo is back and walking among us, attempting to fly. Australia’s pioneering plain packaging legislation has brought it out into public, in a desperate effort to prevent the fall of a domino that promises to cascade globally, ending the industry’s centrepiece of tobacco promotion: the lure of the pack.

The University of California’s Stan Glantz once remarked that those who lead the tobacco industry are like cockroaches: “They love the dark and they spread disease.”1 Ever since the magnesium glare unleashed by the public release of its internal documents via the 1998
Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in the United States, the industry has kept well out of public view, working behind the scenes to shore up its ebbing credibility. The court of public opinion told tobacco companies they were regarded as the most untrustworthy of all industries.2 Media appearances had become progressively humiliating as their spin was rejected. But the truth serum contained in the millions of now-public pages of court-ordered internal documents sealed their public fate. The industry had known tobacco killed, but
had lied about it for decades. Their marketing divisions had underlined the vital importance of recruiting youth, and their chemists had been busy working to enhance the addictiveness of nicotine.

Australia’s historic plain cigarette packaging legislation is a weapons-grade public health policy that is causing apoplexy in the international industry. It is likely to have little effect on heavily dependent smokers, who tend to be brand-loyal and less image-conscious, but without
branding, future generations will grow up never having seen category A carcinogens packaged in attractive packs. Today’s 19-year-olds have never seen local tobacco advertising and youth smoking rates are at an all-time low. Plain packs will
turbocharge this trend, making smoking history.

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