I know at this stage this is an old story, but a good one always bears repeating.
Some of you may have missed the story last week and for those, here it is –
Now I have this image running through my head. Let's go back a few years to a conference room somewhere. There are a few miserable grey people sitting around a table.
"Hey lads! I have just had a great idea!"
Heads turn with some scowling, as positive thoughts aren't encouraged normally.
"Let's force Big Tobacco to use exactly the same size box for all their brands!"
"Hmmmm, yes. That would stop all those fancy boxes and packets they produce!"
"Maybe we could force them to make all the packets look exactly the same with nothing to differentiate between brands?"
Heads are nodding and some are actually cracking a smile for the first time in years.
"We could make them all the same colour too? Fred – go out and do a survey to find the ugliest colour in the world, and don't forget to bill the government".
Fred departs looking so happy that no one recognises him any more.
"Let's cover the packets with horrible warnings of death and destruction!"
The suggestions are coming thick and fast now.
"Let's cover the packs with gruesome pictures. It doesn't matter what they're of so long as they look disgusting."
"This is brilliant, lads! Smokers will be so disgusted that they won't dare buy a pack. They'll be ashamed to show themselves in public with such ugly boxes. Genius! A master stroke!"
Same conference room.
"Why so glum, Jack?"
"Have you not heard the latest?"
"Those fuckers in Big Tobacco have come up with a new idea – a pack within a pack."
"They can't do that! Smokers must be forced to read silly messages and look at gruesome images. They're breaking the law!"
"No. I checked. There is nothing in the law to stop them. Smokers will buy their cigarettes and then just chuck all our hard work in the bin while they go off with their nice shiny packs that were inside."
A air of gloom descends once more. Some are actually relieved that they don't have to smile any more.
"There is only one thing we can do now."
"More research, lads. More research. I'll write to the government for more cash."