The danger of making cigarette packages generic

Today, in the CBC news, the article US bans “light” cigarette labels this month, the following:

Hammond called the removal of those few words on cigarette packs “necessary but not sufficient measures” to improve public health or reduce false perceptions.

Other countries are considering going even further. The Australian government proposed legislation last month that would make manufacturers sell cigarettes in plain, standard packaging, without colours and logos.

This move is meant to make cigarettes (and smoking) less attractive to both smokers and those considering taking it up. What it could very well end up doing is to further fuel the encroachment of the black market into tobacco sales, resulting as well in the loss of government revenues.

When in some places like Quebec and Ontario where the black market is already quite strong, and where recently it was reported that in surveys of cigarette butts in schoolyards, many of the butts were of black market origin, it is already quite easy for consumers to access these products without either fear of arrest or having to travel very far. The cigarettes are cheaper and available.

Quite a few people probably do not buy black market because 1. they are not as pretty and 2. whether it is true or not, they associate branded packaging as indicative of quality control.

So, to belabour the point, take away the packaging and you take away the reason for people to buy from sources that are not only many times more expensive but really do little to encourage you to favour their product.

-Paul L. Bergen

2 thoughts on “The danger of making cigarette packages generic

  1. Pingback: MMC-NEWS

  2. Some countries and states used to add extra taxes on to cigarettes that were NOT “light” by their standards. Of course NOW they like to pretend that the whole light cigarette thing was an evil tobacco company plot, but why not push them to use the same policy in reverse?

    If light cigarettes were taxed extra, and nonfilter cigarettes and roll your owns had their taxes reduced, people would probably smoke fewer cigarettes, give less money to Big Tobacco, and expose those around them to less secondary smoke.

    Oh. Wait. That won’t work: it would also mean that the government gets to steal less money in outrageous taxes on an unorganized and largely defenseless minority group. And rolling back the 2,000% tax increase on Roll Your Own tobacco would be just a tad embarrassing too, wouldn’t it?

    Ah well, it was a good idea.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

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