Australia has proposed the toughest regulation of the Tobacco industry in that country to date in a bid to promote help people quit smoking and curb the costs of related illnesses and death. Currently, like much of the world, Australia has in place bans on smoking inside or out the front of certain venues and cigarette packages are no longer on public display, hidden inside of cabinets until purchase.
Australia's Health Minister Nicola Roxon has proposed that all cigarette packaging in Australia be olive green in colour, be covered in gruesome images of the effects of prolonged cigarette smoking and be completely void of any branding on the packaging. "This plain packaging legislation is a world first and sends a clear message that the glamour is gone - cigarette packs will now only show the death and disease that can come from smoking," she said in a statement.
Cigarette packaging was the last bastion of advertising available to the cigarette companies. Gone are the heyday of the Marlboro man, Motor sport sponsorship and the too cool image. The cigarette packaging is a very important marketing strategy for promoting brand image. The plain olive green packaging has been proposed to limit their brand exposure. In Australia the cigarette companies are attempting to fight the proposed legislation but they are predicted to loose this battle as it is going to be enacted in Federal law.
The particular approach to tobacco legislation is based on thorough research that found that Australian youth perceived the colour olive green to be the most unappealing colour and that removing brand imagery decreased the attractiveness of the cigarette.
The research found that when compared with cigarette packs still displaying branding, cigarette packs with fewer or no branding elements were " perceived increasingly unfavourably in terms of smokers’ appraisals of the packs, the smokers who might smoke such packs, and the inferred experience of smoking a cigarette from these packs."
It will be interesting to see whether or not the desired effect is achieved, at least deterring fringe level smokers and getting them onto nicotine therapies and off the cigarettes. Tax increases have not worked entirely within Australia, with major retailer Coles simply importing German cigarettes and selling them at the price point previously occupied by other brands before the price rise.
In all it seems finally there is greater public sentiment to fix the problem and help people quit smoking, than there is to profiteer of the sickness and addiction of others. Gambling next anyone?