Almost two thirds of people support moves to sell cigarettes in plain packaging, suggesting tobacco companies will soon lose the battle to protect their brands’ identities. The government will publish a consultation on Monday examining plans to strip all branding from cigarette packs sold in England. “Pack designs are used to promote brand imagery, and also distract attention from health warnings,” said Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies. “Putting tobacco into plain packs creates no problem for existing users who want to continue to buy the product, but protects children and young people from becoming familiar with and perhaps identifying with specific brands.” - writes the Guardian.co.uk.
There was the banned advertising, then warnings on packs and then pictures of lungs and other body parts on them too – but now, cigarette packages are going absolutely blank. No brand, no color, nothing, just a picture of a rotting lung or two. When will it stop? Will it stop? I think we all know the answer to that question.
What a cigarette package with the branding removed and graphic health warnings displayed could look like.
Now, a spot has been made by AMV BBDO London as part of Cancer Research U.K.’s campaign to remove all branding from tobacco packages called “The Answer is Plain”, that aims to serve as a wake-up call to just how susceptible children are to finding flashy and colorful designs highly appealing without any understanding of the dangers within such neatly presented boxes. In it, you can see innocent kids describing cigarette packs like they were something utterly fun, bright and colorful. The spot surely hits to the point but it is also the oldest trick in the book, and the biggest hypocrisy of them all is how this is not okay, but 5-year-olds can easily and in an instant recognize a McDonald’s logo, like shown, for example, in these videos of kids analyzing famous brand logos here and here.
Even though I am utterly devastated by every anti-smoking move there is, I can’t help but be even more devastated because of the brands that will suffer from this new law in the UK, and probably sometime in the future, other countries too. What will this do for them? Even though cigarettes are “deadly” (in other words, their image has been made to represent danger through the years) it’s a shame to discard such looks, tradition and history some brands have made over the years. On the other hand, and it really hurts me to say this, removing the brand is removing a part of the fun and feeling of the cigarette, and that may actually reduce the number of kids taking up smoking.
But, in the end, the hypocrisy of making smoking the number one enemy of the people in a world where almost anything you buy and indulge in too much is poison in one way or the other, still stays, next to the fact that anything you indulge in reasonably is okay and the fact that whatever you put on a cigarette pack won’t change the fact that they will always attract kids if you don’t take a bit of your time as a parent and address your kids about what they should or should not do. Alas, we live in a world that, for example, the creators of South Park have so creatively described in much of their episodes, as a world where parents will do anything just not to deal with their kids, letting them go into the arms of the influences of other people, other kids, school, teachers and in the end – media.