Will plain cigarette packaging pack more of a punch!?

“Think of the children! Will someone please think of the children?!!” –Helen Lovejoy

Not to make light of a genuinely important issue, but it would seem that the government is set to hammer another nail into the coffin of the cigarette. For many it’s a gesture that came far too late, the damage of the tar-filled addiction had already left its mark.

Seen as more of a preventative measure, the government looks to introduce plain cigarette packaging in a bid to curb the number of teens taking up the habit. At present the majority of cigarettes are decorated with a slew of graphic images outlining the potential pitfalls of the cheeky “fag.” The images though shocking do little to deter people from taking up the habit. So will this new move of plain packaging really pack the punch needed to knock the cigarettes out of the hands of tomorrow’s youth?

It is thought that the bright and glitzy packaging of cigarettes is a major draw for adolescent up and down country. However, critics of the change claim that the idea that packaging affects sales doesn’t hold much weight. They argue young people will smoke regardless of the type of packaging. The portrayal of smoking in the media has a greater effect upon today’s youth compared to anything else. It’s actually laughable to think that the style of package would make any considerable difference as to whether someone would take up smoking, when it’s the package that gets thrown in the bin not the cigarette. Further measures from the government have led to the removal of cigarettes from the public eye. It is now illegal for establishments to showcase cigarettes on visible display which; may help to stem the tide in some cases, but will do very little to sway long-term smokers to ditch the “drag.”

The introduction of Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) into the tobacco market came about largely because of the shift in attitudes towards health. Comparatively speaking, e-cigs are a much healthier alternative to generic cigarettes containing nowhere near the range of harmful chemicals associated with smoking. Electronic cigarettes from an economic standpoint, allow tobacco companies to recover lost revenue following the recent government intervention.

It’s too early to definitively say how these changes to packaging will affect cigarette sales but nonetheless speculation continues to grow. Britain looks to follow in the footsteps of Australia who have already adopted the plain packet approach. In response, a number of ‘bigwigs’ of the tobacco industry (according to a BBC article) said that “standardised packaging would lead to a rise in illegally smuggled cigarettes in Britain.” They later went on to say that the move would have “little impact on smoking rates.”

As this clearly decisive issue heats up, it’s safe to say that only time will tell whether it will have an impact or not.

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