Imagine walking along a path in a serene jungle. You come across a sign that tells you that you should turn around because there is danger lurking ahead. Further along the path, there is another sign that tells you that you really need to turn back. A third sign questions your ability to read signs and has pictures of dead people and a skull and crossbones, along with an arrow pointing itself around to indicate that you should turn around. The last sign just has a large X on it. If you haven’t stopped by the second or third sign, how is the fourth sign going to make much of a difference?

That is somewhat how I feel about a new campaign in Australia that is to be implemented involving cigarette packaging. The history of cigarette packaging and warnings on the packaging goes quite far back. In the United States, warnings went from a small textual box to the current style — a large graphic warning with photographic images of diseased lungs and tumors to dissuade the potential purchaser.

They wish to take things in a slightly different direction in Australia — plain packaging, with each brand getting an identical typeface, coupled with the standard warnings. The idea of it is that one brand of cigarettes should not be able to be distinguished from another brand as they are all, in the opinion of the government, equally deadly.

I can only hope that this has some measure of success with dissuading new smokers from starting the stinky, deadly habit — from my experience, the only thing that makes a person want to quit that is a smoker is not words on the package, or photographs of what will inevitably happen to them as a result of the smoking. The only thing that will push a person to quit is their own will and decision to do so. I had a friend who smoked for many years and decided it was time to stop based on his own conclusions he reached — and that was the last cigarette he smoked. Most people do not have this kind of success, but I can not imagine that plain packaging is going to help current smokers quit.


  1. I think you’re right that these scary packs and no-brand packs are aimed to influence the young, first time smoker. Once you’re hooked, they got you.

    1. Even former smokers, knowing everything they know, still feel the temptation of a whiff of smoke from a passerby or when walking down the busy street. Sad, but true.

  2. quite right. plain packaging is not going to deter smokers if smokers don’t want to be deterred. I smoke. I roll-my-own. I might have 3-5 a day and for me, it’s an enjoyable pastime. yes, I know very well that it will kill me eventually, but as a fatalist, I also accept the inevitability of death. we’re all headed in the same direction.
    will plain packaging stop or slow the uptake of the ‘habit’? maybe but I’m dubious. we human beings are a willful lot. if we choose to do something no power under the sun will dissuade us. especially not the opinion of another of or own kind.

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