I have been mulling over this idea of packaging tobacco in plain packs.
Australia seems to be well on the way towards this, and the UK is lining up to join the band. There is a campaign running in the UK at the moment which is worth a visit, if only to sign the petition.
I must confess I am a little confused by this latest idea from The Righteous. What exactly are they trying to do?
They claim it’s to stop “the children” from taking up smoking, but I don’t see how. Do kids really stare at the cigarette packs in a tobacconist and make an impulse purchase because of the packaging? Are they so overawed by the colours that they just have to buy them?
I suppose there could be an argument that there is some kind of playground kudos in flashing a particular brand around to impress “the mates” but if so, it is purely a kudos thing and nothing top do with starting smoking. The kids are already buying at that stage so plain packaging will make no difference.
Just suppose that some law was passed declaring that all mobile phones should look exactly the same, would that stop people from buying mobile phones?
There is absolutely no rhyme nor reason for this move except to annoy smokers. It is just another petty vindictive move to bolster the egos of The Righteous.
Will it stop people from taking up smoking? Maybe an infinitesimal minority may be put off by it but I doubt it. Will it make smokers decide to quit? Why should it? It is just an irritant, that’s all.
So what will the impact be?
For a start, it will be bonanza time for the counterfeiters. It will literally be a case of one pack fits all. They can tool up their printing presses, and just change a word or two to change the brand.
It will also be a major irritant for tobacconists. In the days before all tobacco displays had to be put behind doors, as if the display emitted some kind of strange cancer inducing radiation, I used to scan the display to see if they stocked my tobacco. If they did, I could point and buy. Simple. Now I have to ask if they stock my brand and then I [and the rest of the queue] have to stand around while they faff about, opening doors and looking for the brand. With plain packs, that will be considerably more tedious, as the assistant will then have to read the labels on each and every pack to ensure I get my correct baccy.
And what about tourists? Say for example a French smoker is visiting our blighted isle? He smokes a particular brand and will have to ask if it is sold here. If it isn’t [which is more than likely] he cannot readily spot another brand with which he is familiar. The assistant will literally have to name off all the brands so he can make his choice. It will be tedious and time consuming for both the vendor and the customer.
How will it affect me?
It won’t, that much. I buy 90% of my baccy in the same place and they know me and my brand. I am not the type to leave my pack of baccy lying around for the kudos effect as honestly, no one gives a damn what I am smoking.
What it will do though is remind me every time I fill my pipe that The Righteous hate me on a personal level. They don’t hate me because I smoke. No. They hate me because I am a smoker.
And I, as I look at my plain pack will hate them even more.