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Thank you for plain packaging

Thursday 5 August, 2010

The Government must be doing something right. Why else would the tobacco lobby be shrieking in fear about the legislation to bring in plain packaging for all cigarette products in Australia by July 2012?

Funded by the three largest tobacco companies but branded as the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers' these new adverts are based on the ludicrous premise that the plain packaging legislation will not lower rates of smoking, it will only make it harder for small businesses to operate and cut into profits.

We don't actually have anyone from the tobacco industry on speed dial but if we did, the conversation might go a little bit like this (for the sake of clarity let's call their representative Nick N):

Cancer Council: Why are you so mad?

Nick N: Plain packaging will erode profits and not lower smoking rates!

CC: Really? Why will it erode profits?

NN: Well, because they will sell less cigarettes.

CC: I see. Why will they sell less cigarettes? Is it because people will be smoking less?

NN: Yes. I mean no. I mean, plain packaging will not lower smoking rates.

CC: I'm not sure I follow - you mean smoking rates will stay the same?

NN: That's right.

CC: So why will profits fall, if smoking rates are the same, won't they sell the same number of cigarettes?

NN: No, smokers will go to bigger supermarkets because it's no longer convenient to buy from a convenience store or service station.

CC: Why's that?

NN: Because it will take too long to get served.

CC: But won't the supermarkets have the same problem? ... This wouldn't have anything to do with tobacco profits would it?

NN: (dial tone)

You see, that's exactly the point of the plain packaging policy - to reduce smoking rates, and with it the enormous burden of smoking-related death and disease in Australia.

You just can't trust tobacco companies. For years they denied the link between lung cancer and smoking. Now they are hiding behind an alliance of milk bars and corner shops in a desperate bid to protect a falling empire which is based on profits from death and disease.

This ad campaign is nothing but tobacco-funded scaremongering. The world will be watching to see what effect our world first plain packaging policy has on smoking rates. And the tobacco industry knows it. And they are scared.

Have you seen the Alliance's ads? What do you think of their argument? Do you think plain packaging will have an affect on smokers?


You people should get a real job!

From: Rex Lungs (Acme Tobacco), 15/04/2013

  Cut Your Cancer Risk team: Hi Kris, Thanks for the feedback. A few things:

  1. You're right that there is no hard evidence that plain packaging will denormalise smoking because it's never been implemented anywhere in the world before. There was no evidence that graphic health warnings would work when they were implemented either, but we now know they've been highly successful in helping people quit. What we do have is strong research that suggests implementing plain packaging will make smoking less attractive, especially to kids. Not sure where your proof is about pharmaceutical links to the fight for plain packaging - but of course people who work in "quitting related professions" for example employees of non-profit health organisations like the Cancer Council, want to reduce the toll smoking has on society in anyway we can.
  2.  Cigarettes in Australia are more expensive than they are in Asia, so that's not why tourists come here and I doubt they're going to stop coming if we implement plain packaging. For example, the cheapest pack of cigarettes in China retail for around 20 cents! If cigarette regulation was a factor tourists took into account when they chose their holiday destination, then I think we would have already seen a fall. And one of the points of plain packaging is to minimise recognition of cigarette strength, as there's no such thing as "safer cigarettes." Cigarette strength descriptors falsely imply that there are.
  3. Tobacco is part of domestic trade that kills 15 thousand Australians every year while the flow on effects of that affect many times that number. Asbestos was once part of our trade... As for transaction time, the brand name and product line will still be clearly marked on the pack and will be easily  readable while retailers will be permitted to use product lists and labels to readily locate particular products.

From: Cut Your Cancer Risk team , 15/04/2013

What makes you people think you have the right to tell us what we should or shouldnt do. IM AN ADULT AND SMOKING IS MY CHOICE. Get a hobby, find something else to do if your all so bored. As for making them less attractive to kids, come on, what kid has $20 to spend on cigarettes. I had trouble finding $5 for a pack when I was a kid in the early 90's. You are all a bunch of do-gooders that need to get a real job

From: Robbo, 15/04/2013

There's 3 big downsides to plain packaging that you have conveniently brushed past. 1) That it is not evidence based. Much like the alcopop tax the industry experts were all involved with big-pharmaceuticals who market smokeless nicotine and people directly employed in quitting related professions who have ulterior motives. 2) That it harms tourism - (1. Many asian markets that have 50%+ (majority) male smokers (China, Japan, Koreas, Russia) think it is disrespectful to treat adults in such a fashion. (Won't quit for health benefits, but will for basic packaging?). Also it makes it alot harder for poor-intermediate level smokers to identify a cigarette that is the same strength as what they smoke (heavy cigarettes make you sick, light leave you unsatisfied - there will be no way to choose now when you are unfamiliar with local cigarettes). 3) It hurts domestic retail trade. I used to sell cigarettes at a petrol station. Half of all revenue from non-petrol sales came from tobacco. Considering there were 100+ tobacco products at this store, I have no idea how I could pick the right pack and finalise the transaction in the 30second or less window that I usually did - in fact such a move will involve searching longer then an average transaction. Additionally stores that offer tobacco for sale will not be readily available - an additional hazard for tourism when alot of our market are big smokers.

From: Kris, 15/04/2013

It's interesting that the tobacco companies are running their ads during the federal election. I assume the tobacco industry support the liberal party, and the libs support the tobacco co.

From: Anne, 15/04/2013

Well done - if only this transcript could be used on a counteracting tv ad.

From: Katrina, 15/04/2013

More power to you CCV.

From: Brett, 15/04/2013

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