Government in shock plain cigarette packaging pledge

The Government has unexpectedly announced that plain cigarette packaging could be introduced in England as soon as next year.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has announced that MPs will vote on the issues before the General Election in May.

If passed, the plain packaging legislation could see England become just the second major country to ban branded cigarette packs – following Australia in 2012.

If the legislation is passed in England it is hoped that devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow suit.

The announcement was an unexpected one – although Ellison had said last year that she was “minded to proceed” with introducing regulations on plain packaging following the Chantler Review into the issue.

Government has been mulling the idea of plain packaging since 2010 and had looked set to call a vote on the issue in 2013, before the plan was pulled.

This new announcement comes after Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said last week that of successful at the next election, a future Labour Government would introduce plain cigarette packaging.

The Department for Health has already released images of what plain cigarette packaging might look like in the UK.

The designs use Helvetica and a “drab brown” colour palette, alongside graphic health warnings and space for the individual brand and variant names.

The are similar to the designs used in Australia, which also feature a drab colour palette and standardised fonts and type sizes.

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  • Anthony Tattum November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The Government’s plan to ban branding on cigarette packaging seems somewhat flawed. Given that it is a person’s choice to smoke and considering the highly addictive nature of the product, whether the packet is blank or not, if people want to smoke, they will smoke. Research suggests how little impact the Australian packaging ban has had in cutting down smoking and there’s no evidence to suggest that plain packaging reduces smoking.

    If the planned changes make any impact at all, this may target the younger generation, prior to their initial decision to smoke. However, a more sustainable approach, driven by achieving a change in attitudes, would be to further instil the health implications brought on by smoking. Cigarettes are now hidden behind counters, seen by some as reducing the temptation for them to smoke or by other as fueling the flames of demand, by creating a ‘forbidden fruit’ complex. Either way, amendments to the visual presence of tobacco products seem like a minor tactic, compared to pushing real changes in perception through education.

    As a marketing and branding agency, we know that choice of brand is what people contemplate on a daily basis when buying a product. People look at branding in order to make an informed decision on whether they purchase a product or not. By making tobacco packaging blank, this merely seems like an element of choice being removed from our purchase decision making.

    Anthony Tattum,

  • Michael Smith November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Surely we all have a moral responsibility to think about the consequences of what we do to earn a living.

    It has to be a choice, we all need to draw our own lines, but so few design agencies seem to care (as long as the money’s right), and so few designers consider it an option to question what they are being asked to do.

    The ‘it’s business’ approach is simple not acceptable.

    We have a firm ethical policy…

    “Cog Design will not undertake any design work for, or which seeks to directly promote the work of: petrochemical companies, pornographers, arms manufacturers or dealers, tobacco (and related) companies or McDonald’s restaurants.”

    We’ll also take a view on any other work that the team are uncomfortable with.

    We’ve had to walk away from a few projects over the years but it’s won us a lot more business than we’ve lost, and it makes this a much nicer place to come to work each day.

    It’s time the design industry stopped slapping itself on the back for how cleverly it promotes gambling, and giving plaudits to those who are helping with the green-washing of the petro-chem giants etc.

    Michael Smith
    Founding Director, Cog Design
    @michael_cog / @cog_design

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