In a groundbreaking move, the Australian government is proposing to force tobacco companies to use plain packaging for their products. All packets will look the same, with a plain brown cover, health-warning images, and the brand name written in small plain type.
The tobacco companies are outraged – why? Because they know how important brand image is to smokers, and how important it is to winning new smokers/customers to their brand.
Studies have shown that people judge people who smoke unbranded cigarettes less favourably than those using familiar brands. Positive qualities (unbelievably!) are associated with the different brand colours and images, and when these go, the smokers are seen less positively too.
Tobacco companies are so worried that they are threatening court cases. They are also, in a strange attempt at reverse psychology, sponsoring media campaigns that say the packaging won’t make any difference and is a waste of time. Chances are, if they feel threatened, the Australian government is onto a winner.
Australia has already banned direct advertising for so long that they have the lowest rates of smokers and especially of young smokers in the developed world. Their government’s latest plan deserves a round of applause for all the lives that will be saved in the long-run, and for all the money saved by the government and individuals.
Three cheers for common sense!
Source: The New Scientist www.newscientist.com
The British Medical Journal www.bmj.com