Blank cigarette pack in hand

The End of the Road for Cigarette Packaging?

27th January 2015

They are some of the most recognisable consumer brands on the planet – from the red and white stripe of Marlboro to the distinctive gold of Benson & Hedges. But for how much longer?

The Government has set in train the legislative process that could soon outlaw any brand markings on cigarette packets sold in the UK, following in the footsteps of the Australians who changed the law just over two years ago.

Since December 2012 Australian smokers have seen their favourite brands replaced with graphic images of the physical effects of smoking tobacco – from decaying teeth to tar-stained lungs. But whether it is having the desired effect – persuading smokers to quit and making the habit less attractive to potential new smokers – is yet to be seen.

Opponents to the move have argued that the black market has been the real winner with more low-grade cigarettes flooding the market but the Australian Government is clear that the numbers of those seeking to quit the habit has risen significantly.

Dr Aman Singh, director of One-Lite, said: “There is no doubt that the marketing behind cigarette brands is incredibly powerful. To suggest otherwise would seem disingenuous when the marketplace is so competitive.

“A recent national survey found that 85 per cent of mothers did not want their children exposed to cigarette marketing so there is clearly wide support for this initiative from the general public and it is also set to become law in New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland.

“Smoking tobacco is harmful in so many different ways and any moves that either persuade people to turn their back on the habit has to be welcomed. However, while there appears to be general support for plain packaging, there is not currently the body of evidence to show conclusively that this will reduce the number of long-term smokers and we will continue to monitor the research as it becomes available.

“But what is clear is that with the development of an electronic alternative to tobacco, new legislation on packaging and the increasing costs and social stigma around smoking, we can be increasingly optimistic that there will be a significant reduction in the number of long-term smokers in the years ahead.”