I came across an interesting post today via Dick Puddlecote
Pat Harrold on why Ireland is forging ahead with plain packaging for cigarettes
We Irish are good at many things. We are world leaders in literature, music and, occasionally, rugby. Lately we have become famous for tobacco control. Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in public places after some groundbreaking research into the health of Galway bar staff. We are now set to become one of the first countries to ban tobacco branding. This means that the box of twenty will have a plain cover and you can only tell the different types by the lettering. The boxes will look generic, rather like the government products in the old Soviet Union. They will be sombre.
So being a World Leader is very important to you Pat? I might point out that North Korea is world famous too?
I note too your comparison with the old Soviet Union. So you want to compare us with another state controlled bully regime? You said it, not me.
I have made the transformation from an enthusiastic smoker to an even more enthusiastic non smoker and I have to say I welcome this strategy. It is not only the cigarette that is branded, it is also the smoker.
So you gave up smoking? Good for you. And now, having given up you think that earns you the right to bully others around?
When I started smoking at school I first bought a box of ten cigarettes.
When you bought your first packet you were obviously breaking the law, unless you were still at school when you were eighteen? So much for laws then?
The box was wonderfully exotic. It reeked of quality and even had a Royal Seal. The smelly smoky reality was offset by the gorgeous box which I could produce with élan. As I progressed I bought boxes of twenty in a dull green packet. These were the working man’s fag. Tough guys smoked these—they were down to earth, no nonsense. When I pulled out that packet I was one of the lads. I was branded as surely as by my denim jacket, my long hair, my heavy metal albums under the arm as one of a type.
All right, so you obviously had low self esteem, very impressionable and it was very important to "follow the crowd"? That's fair enough. Seeing as you are basing all your arguments on personal experience, then I can do the same. I bought my first cigarettes as singles. I paid thruppence for a single fag at a time and I haven't a clue what brand it was. Later, when I started buying packs, as far as I remember I smoked "Country Life". Ironically [if my memory serves me] they were sold in drab green packs. I smoked 'em because they were cheaper. I couldn't tell you what my friends smoked.
In college the heavy metal and the cigarettes changed. I knocked around with the drama society and we all smoked a milder cigarette in a fancy box. When I worked in hospitals my peers and I smoked the mildest cigarette you could find as if an apology for smoking at all.
Still following the herd even as a fully fledged professional? Hmmmm….
When you produce a box of cigarettes it tells the other smokers what kind of smoker you are.
If I still smoked cigarettes, I would take the pack out of my pocket, remove a cigarette and place the pack back in my pocket again, just as most smokers do. As it is, I smoke a pipe and I decant all my tobacco into a leather pouch. I don't know what that says about me, and frankly I don't give a damn. But then I am secure in myself.
There is very little price difference between the cheapest and the most expensive. There is not much difference in taste either, as I recall.
So by your theory, if all cigarettes taste the same, and will look the same then people will just smoke the cheapest? And the only way the tobacco companies can compete is to drop prices? Nice one!
There is a huge difference in how smokers see themselves in their pretensions, identity, and aspirations. The companies know this in their campaigns to sell smokers as cowboys or racing drivers.
Yes. The companies are competing with one another for brand recognition in the existing market. That's business for you. If I were running a business I would want customers to switch to my brand too.
A plain white box with a government warning doesn’t say very much about you and might just be the trick to stop people smoking.
It may not say much about me but is says one hell of a lot about my government. Frankly it wouldn't bother me anyway as I would just decant into a cigarette case as I do with my pipe tobacco into a pouch. And think how glamorous some of those cigarette cases will look? Or would you want to ban them too?
Maybe the idea could be extended to fast food and alcohol.
Yes. Why not. Now that you have your bully state in full swing let's go for the whole hog. Let's ban cars, flying, sport, DIY and anything else that my remotely cause an injury? Let's slap lurid pictures of car crashes on all vehicles? Aircraft decorated with exploding plane-crashes? Lets do it all so we lave in a drab colourless state controlled world [a bit like the old Soviet Union?]. We will be joyless and drab, but we will be SAFE. I would say we would be healthy but we would all be too depressed for that.
A couple of points you failed to mention, Jim.
The first is that there is no proof whatsoever that plain packs will do anything except make life extremely difficult for tobacconists [and very comfortable for counterfeiters]? The only "study" that everyone quotes is the one where pre-teens express a preference for one colour over another and answer some extremely loaded questions. If my wife asks my preferences when choosing a dress for herself, does that mean I am going to immediately go out out and start buying women's clothes for myself?
And another little aside… Your post appeared on the BMJ site. I presume you are aware that this is the same BMJ that found no link between second-hand smoke and ill health?
Just thought I would mention it.