Yes, the tobacco displays won't be fully hidden till April - with all the unintentionally accompanying hilarity that nonsense entails - but tobacco control is already spending money like water to, as Snowdon astutely comments, "justify its existence" with the latest expensive hare-brained exercise in abject failure. Plain packaging.
Now, I've seen many a 'meh' reaction to this initiative, some from those who should know better. They think this is just an attack on the tobacco industry and doesn't affect smokers at all.
Sadly, they couldn't be more wrong. ASH explains why here.
Smokers display the branding every time they take out their pack to smoke. In doing so they are making a statement about how they want to be seen by others as they display and endorse the brand they have chosen.Y'see, ASH don't want smokers to be able to make any statement, they only want them to be denormalised. That's why plain packs must be bullied through at any cost.
Can't have smokers believing they have a sense of identity or worth, now can we?
In fact, one of the reasons Aussie MPs fell in love with plain packaging enough to pass the law down there, was precisely the attractive nature - one might even call it 'glitzy' - of how it impinged on smokers' self-expression.
The study showed how cigarette brands and cigarette package designs gave meaning to personal characteristics, to social identity and to positions in hierarchies of status. (page 6)Identity? Style? Status? Values? Character? These aren't attributes any self-respecting anti-smoker wants tobacco consumers to be able to enjoy. They must be stamped out at any cost.
Pack design doesn’t just communicate the ‘personality’ of a cigarette brand to the smoker... it also allows smokers to project these characteristics to others when they handle and display the package throughout their daily routines. Just as designer clothing, accessories and cars serve as social cues to style, status, values and character, so too can cigarette packs signify a range of attributes about users. As ‘badge products’, cigarettes can reinforce the characteristics conjured by brand image.(page 7)
Any fool knows that smokers must only be seen as malodourous, litterers, selfish and thoughtless, unattractive and undesirable, undereducated and a social underclass, addicts, excessive users of public health services, and employer liabilities. And how do fools know this? Because the prime architect of plain packing laws in Australia, Simon Chapman, told them all of the above in 2002.
Make no mistake. This is just the latest attack on all smokers. Further heavy-handed denormalisation tactics aimed not at industry, but at individuals who choose to smoke.
Which is why you may have noticed a new widget at the sidebar for the Hands Off Our Packs campaign whose website was launched yesterday. Please do go have a look around the site as it explains the state-funded idiocy surrounding this issue. To object, simply fill in the form on the right and your voice will be forwarded to Westminster.
Of course, even plain packaging isn't the end for tobacco control (well, would you give up such a rich tax-funded gravy train just because you're not getting any meaningful results?). No, Snowdon points to some of the next logical steps.
LICENCES to puff, foul-tasting cigarettes, and financial incentives to stop smoking are next in a bid to help the nation quit a $5 billion addiction to tobacco revenue before the end of the next decade.I'll just add a couple of others, if I may.
How about 'single presentation' as in Uruguay, whereby only one line is allowed from each tobacco company. As a result, many popular brand variants would cease to be allowed by law.
Or, perhaps minimum tobacco pricing, as suggested by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.
Plain packaging is most certainly an attack on the individual, and will just pave the way for even more hideous treatment in the future. Please do go register your objection by signing up here.