Wednesday, 9 March 2011

No smoke without a label.

It's national no-smoking day.

Today the government has announced that shops will be made to display cigarettes in as plain packaging as possible, seemingly in order to deter people from wanting to buy them.

The question has to be whether this will actually work, and if so, how effectively.

If we look at why people smoke, the majority will tell you that it's because they are addicted. If you ask them why they started smoking in the first place, most will tell you it was because their friends did it at school, and they started in order to be cool. By the time they realise that actually, it's not that cool, in fact it's detrimental to their health, it's too late and they're already addicted.

The removal of any kind of attractive packaging has to be based on the assumption that people are drawn to buying the product based on its presentation. But actually, most are probably introduced to cigarettes behind the bike sheds (or whatever their equivalent is these days), by a school friend who probably stole them from his/her parents.

It's not like chocolate bars, where certain brands are targeted specifically with colourful packaging, by the time children get to the stage of legally being able to buy their own cigarettes, they probably don't care what brand they are, just as long as they're not too expensive.

Cigarette packaging has carried serious health warnings for years, and that doesn't appear to have put people off buying them, so I'm slightly confused as to how anyone thinks plain packaging is going to have an effect.

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