This is totally a minor point in a very torrid debate, but I’m going to bring it up anyway. In a post on the government announcement to move forward on plain packaging, Idiot/Savant says:
Cigarette packaging has been used as a marketing mechanism to circumvent advertising bans.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume I/S isn’t a smoker. May not live with a smoker. May not hang out with many smokers (I can definitely say there aren’t many of them in geek circles, for a start.)
Now, if you don’t smoke, don’t know or live with smokers, haven’t ever been asked by a partner or coworker to pick up a pack for them, if you really don’t spend much of your time thinking about what cigarette packages look like … what does that sentence say to you?
How would you assume cigarette packaging “has been used as a marketing mechanism”?
Personally, I think I’d assume there are slogans on the packs. Sexy ladies, maybe. The pack might be like a little box-shaped billboard hawking the product’s advantages and inexpensiveness.
The reason I might not know what cigarette packs really look like might have something to do with the fact that shops cannot display them, so the usual prohibitionist argument that the packaging is SECRETLY AN ADVERTISEMENT!!!! SUBVERTING THE LAW!!!! already falls at the first hurdle.
Anyway. Here’s a pretty standard cigarette package:
The text includes: the type of product; the brand name in the brand font; the sub-brand name, and a note about duty tax.
I defy anyone to explain to me how this is any more an “advertisement” than, say, this box of Just Juice:
Yes, cigarettes are evil and nasty and going to kill us all, and yes, the tobacco industry is so evil that it fights any move to make its business more expensive and potentially less profitable (unlike every other industry in the word, of course). But when we’re down to exclaiming in horror that a pack containing a brand name and a fancy logo is deliberate immoral subversion of the rule of parliamentary law? I think we’re a little bit in la-la land.
Of course, it ties in with this kind of rhetoric (and general lack-of-reality) from the Smokefree Coalition:
“[Plain packaging] will remove the tobacco industry’s last methods of making smoking appear glamorous and sophisticated to our children.”
Because like I’ve said before, apparently cigarette packaging has magical properties which entrances the minds of innocent children – even when they can’t see it on display. Oh wait, maybe they see the magical packaging when their parents or relatives smoke. In which case it’s definitely the packaging which convinces them that smoking is a relaxing social activity.
Honestly, when it comes to anti-smoking and anti-binge-drinking campaigns? I’d be so much more on board if I didn’t feel they treated me, and everyone else in society, like fucking guppies.