Tuesday 31 January 2012

It's Personal, Plain And Simple

You'll have smelt the nasty whiff of yet another 'urgent' and 'vital' anti-tobacco campaign, I take it? Even more so than the last one which, err, hasn't concluded yet.

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)

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)
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.

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.


lleweton said...

I've signed.

Junican said...

Right, DP, but there is more to it than that.

Here is a quote from the Stephen Williams blog about plain packaging legislation:

Plain packs would be the same size, same colour, same font for the product name and nothing else other than the health warning. [My bold]

So at least part of the objective is to control the size of fag packets and thereby the size of the contents. In fact, Williams goes on to comment in a reply to a question that I put to him about 'size' as follows:

William’s answer to question re size of packs,o        The Coalition Government will be holding a consultation exercise on “plain packets” and I’m sure that all these points of detail will be raised. Of course, the phrase plain packets that we have all been using is a bit of a misnomer. If we follow Australia they won’t be “plain” but they will all be similar. Perhaps “standard” packs would be a better way of describing where I think we will end up. Packs will be the same size (the traditional 20 fags size) and shape so as to do away with all the marketing ploys of “slim” packs or packs shaped like lipstick and so on. They will be the same colour, the brand name will be the same font and font size. Maybe the health warnings will have more variety! The size and colour of the cigarettes themselves will also become standardised.I guess this reply will provoke another round of outrage…So once fag packets are all the same size, what is to stop legislation which give the Health Sec (aka ASH ET AL) power to regulate the size of packets and reduce the size more and more from time to time? We could finish up with fag packets 'no more than 5 centimetres long, of which 3 centimeters must be filter tip'.For the good of our health of course. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Good spot, Junican. So slimmer cigs which are becoming popular in many jurisdictions will effectively be banned. 

Even more evidence, then, that this is a direct attack on the consumer rather than the producer. 

non sum dignus said...

Playtime is over with these well funded anti tobacco freaks
The jessying and mamby pamby restrained oppostion to these
fanatics is like water of a whales back.
Time is ripe to conjure up something to excite their non chalance
starting with the easy to approach hirelings.
A search is overdue for the underclass whose anger needs aiming
collectively in the required direction.
There are no rule books in the fight for freedom and liberty
remember the Government itself will use any means to acheive it
as we have seen in Serbia,Iraq,Afghanistan and Libya
they aggree ,,,,anything goes.

Junican said...

Precisely, DP.

nfc said...

Maybe a good time to start investing in companies making cigarette cases(ssshhhh!)


Radical Rodent said...

Actually, if it does come to pass (and I have a feeling something this hare-brained will fly through as fast as a... erm, hare), then we will see the return of the cigarette case; nice, flashy etched and embossed silver, perhaps with diamonds (or diamante) inlaid...

Halfamo said...

I gave up cigarettes 25 years ago but still smoke the odd cigar. When I smoked cigarettes, because of my job as a workshop manager, it was difficult to keep  the packets in shape so I bought a cigarette case, which I still have. My Dad always used a case for his Seniors. So what's to stop you having a case and applying images such as B&H?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

RR & Halfamo: Doesn't solve the problem of 'the next logical step' though, sadly. The B&H images will almost certainly be banned, at least. 

Richard Hansen said...

I would love to see someone with the resources begin a small start-up company that would produce and sell plastic or vinyl cigarette cases to look exactly like the original cigarette pack. I am sure the tobacco companies would give permission via their respective copyrights as this would only benefit them as well.
The company could also carry an entire alternative line of cases protesting ASH and other fake charities, graphic imagery of twisted, angry faces of antis spewing their venomous hate while a scared child looks on, or a collection of cartoons, in a series perhaps(collectibles?) that depict the absolute ineptness and lunacy of the anti-tobacco research and supposed science. The funny possibilities are endless and would raise the ire of the antis and stick in their....face.

Jay said...

Richard Hansen:  Tobacco companies cannot allow other companies to use their trade marks (it's not copyrights) or other IP for products such as you mentioned, because EU and UK law prevents them from doing so.  In fact, you will find that if anyone tries to do such a thing, tobacco companies will put a serious hurt on that company, because if they don't the penalties to the tobacco company would be huge. Tobacco companies are unable to advertise their products in the UK and Europe, and this includes branding things like cigarette cases, lighters, etc.  It's draconian.  It's utter bullshit. 

Anyway, should plain packaging come in, I will never buy any tobacco in the UK again.  I will buy legitimate, branded goods in another country, and I would encourage others to do the same.  And how cool will I be when my tobacco pouch has nifty graphics on it?  Yeah, I bet people will be lining up to kiss my feet because of my snazzy Golden Virginia pouch.  :)

Jaycas said...

But they couldn't touch Richard's idea of deriding anti-smokers...
...and this could easily be done with those spoof stickers that you can buy to cover the official health warnings

Starshipfighter said...

That settles it then. If they bring in plain packaging I'm buying the flashiest cigarette case I can find, a highly chromed Zippo and I'm going to wear a leather jacket and shades whenever I light up. These purse-lipped shit shit-for-brains fuckwits can go fuck themselves. I'm going to make sure I look even cooler when I smoke...

moonrakin said...

That these gits help themselves to (a heap of) front line NHS funds is really and truly a travesty. That they are smug, patronising and dishonest simply rubs salt in. If people were actually given a choice between funding an air ambulance and these morons.... - but then - they don't have the choice and have to stump up for donations to support the helicopter...

Just appalling.