Government mulls standardised cigarette packaging

Cigarette packaging design could come to an end in the UK if Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposal to standardise packaging becomes official policy.

Speaking in advance of a planned White Paper on public health, Lansley says, ‘We have to try new approaches and take decisions to benefit the population. That’s why I want to look at the idea of plain packaging.’

He adds, ‘The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It’s wrong that children are being attracted to smoking by glitzy designs on packets.’

Lansley’s comments come in the light of the Government’s decision to reassess how tobacco is displayed in shops as it looks to reduce tobacco consumption and the ‘burdens on business’, the Department of Health says.

Lansley says that ‘a radical new approach to public health’ will be set out shortly in a White Paper.

Jones Knowles Ritchie has worked on several cigarette branding and packaging briefs over the years. Creative director Silas Amos concedes that stopping teenagers smoking is ‘undoubtedly a good thing’, but questions the effectiveness of Lansley’s proposal.

He believes the move could be counter-intuitive and says removing the branding could give cigarettes ‘more cachet’.

‘If you accept that branding makes sales go up, you have to accept that debranding makes sales come down. The Achilles’ heel [of the new proposal] is that debranding something makes it less mainstream, which might appeal to teenagers’ more rebellious side,’ says Amos.

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