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Australian High Court backs plain packaging for cigarettes
August 15, 2012 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Australian High Court backs plain packaging for cigarettes Government and health groups yesterday hailed as a victory for global health the High Court's rejection of the tobacco industry's challenge to the unprecedented legislation. The measure will ban brand logos and trademarks on cigarette packets from December 1
posted by Wolof (112 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not a smoker but the idea of Repo Man-style generic cigarette packaging seems kind of cool to me actuallly.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:59 AM on August 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


Next up we get them to ban the cancer sticks INSIDE the packs!

/ex chain smoker
posted by gomichild at 7:00 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Olive green? Couldn't they think of a better colour?

I was musing when I heard this that I bet I could still find my own brand by taste alone.
posted by infini at 7:01 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cigarette packs have logos?!? I thought they were just pocket size posters of rotting teeth, dead babies, and diseased lungs.
posted by fairmettle at 7:01 AM on August 15, 2012


I love this.
posted by ged at 7:02 AM on August 15, 2012


OZ HATES FAGS!
posted by MuffinMan at 7:10 AM on August 15, 2012 [26 favorites]


ban brand logos and trademarks

It sounds like plain text trademarks will be permitted, but not distinguishing typefaces, colors, and the like.
posted by exogenous at 7:10 AM on August 15, 2012


Right because they're hooked on graphics.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:11 AM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


"It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front, called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, "I can't wait to get my hands on these fucking things!" - Dennis Leary


It's funny because it's true. No one seriously thinks that this is going to affect smoking behavior, do they?
posted by DWRoelands at 7:12 AM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


The tobacco industry does. Appealing to the High Court ain't cheap.
posted by smorange at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


It's funny because it's true. No one seriously thinks that this is going to affect smoking behavior, do they?

Maybe not those who have been smoking for 20 years. But a 13 year old kid lighting up for the first time after school? Possibly.
posted by lobbyist at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


"It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front, called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, "I can't wait to get my hands on these fucking things!"
posted by MuffinMan at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2012


No one seriously thinks that this is going to affect smoking behavior, do they?

The act of smoking? No.

Brand loyalty? *Yes* -- which is why the tobacco companies fought this so hard. Smokers tend to be loyal, which is why the tobacco companies spend so much to make sure that you know that this pack is, indeed, the smokes you want.

Now, they can't do that -- and I'll bet as more and more people get different brands because they look the same, they'll realize that the difference isn't nearly as much as they remembered, and brand loyalty goes out the window, and the low-price packs sell a lot more, and that costs Big Tobacco profits.
posted by eriko at 7:19 AM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think the main thrust is that while it may not deter people who are currently smokers, it makes it that much harder to get into it. I've been smoking for about 10 years now (although it is beginning to wind down, just because it's such a goddamned hassle to get smokes and find a place to smoke them), so anything that might help preventing anyone from starting is something I'll get behind.
posted by King Bee at 7:19 AM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Right because they're hooked on graphics.
That's right, the look or appearance of things makes no difference whatsoever. Companies that pay graphic designers to design packaging are wasting money, you need to tell them quick!
posted by Jehan at 7:20 AM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


It might affect brand loyalty for some, but I know there is no way I'm smoking anything but American Spirit (formerly light) Yellow pack. I can't smoke anything else. Your standard chemical taste of Camels and Marlboros make me ill. The smell of smoke from those brands is disgusting to me. If someone offers me a cigarette that is different from the AS, I don't even want it.

I'll do the pepsi challenge with different cigarette brands, and I guarantee I could pick out my brand/type out of a blind smoke lineup.

But there will be folks who this will help to wind down also. So, I approve.
posted by King Bee at 7:23 AM on August 15, 2012


I'll do the pepsi challenge with different cigarette brands, and I guarantee I could pick out my brand/type out of a blind smoke lineup.

Yeah, but that's only because trying to smoke an American Spirit is the flavor equivalent of sucking on a straw full of cotton.
posted by griphus at 7:26 AM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


No one seriously thinks that this is going to affect smoking behavior, do they?
Brand loyalty? *Yes*


I disagree. I used to be a smoker and when bumming a not-my-usual-brand cigarette, I could *always* taste the difference. New smokers might not notice, but anyone who's had a regular brand for a while will.

Nothing short of banning them will get all the people to stop. ...And even then, you'd have hardcore smokers find ways to get 'em on the black or gray market. (Vaping has been the only thing that's kept me off cigarettes...2 years now!)
posted by smirkette at 7:27 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welp.... the suck.
So, here is the FPP I was planning until someone died....

The High Court in Australia has just rejected a legal challenge by Big Tobacco that will allow the Australian Government to mandate plain packaging for cigarette packages from December. The ruling may lead to rejected a legal challenge by Big Tobacco that will allow the Australian Government to mandate plain packaging for cigarette packages from December. The ruling may lead to similar legislation being enacted in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and India. Although the US is apparently fighting back.

Tobacco producers are fighting a campaign on several fronts, claiming plans for plain packaging of cigarettes are a charter for organised crime and a danger to our children.
British American Tobacco CEO David Crow threatened to lower cigarette prices in order to compete, which he claimed could result in higher smoking amongst young people. Medcines Australia and other anti-smoking groups love it. The case law is here.

Tobacco sellers say they will fight Australia's plain packaging laws despite today's High Court decision.

Packaging cigarettes trademarks smoking tobacco advertising health cancer nicotine art design smoke addictionustralia-after-tobacco-plain-packing-upheld-by-high-court/story-fndir2ev-1226451177308">similar legislation being enacted in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and India. Although the US is apparently fighting back.

Tobacco producers are fighting a campaign on several fronts, claiming plans for plain packaging of cigarettes are a charter for organised crime and a danger to our children.
British American Tobacco CEO David Crow threatened to lower cigarette prices in order to compete, which he claimed could result in higher smoking amongst young people. Medcines Australia and other anti-smoking groups love it. The case law is here.

Tobacco sellers say they will fight Australia's plain packaging laws despite today's High Court decision.
posted by Mezentian at 7:28 AM on August 15, 2012 [39 favorites]


No no, but the best part of the BBC news report on this was how the anchor said, "The tobacco industry alleges that this will create a black market in branded cigarettes."

And then I am certain I heard her roll her eyes.
posted by jph at 7:29 AM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Next up we get them to ban the cancer sticks INSIDE the packs! /ex chain smoker

Yes, surely, surely, prohibition is the answer to this. It won't at all backfire or cause other societal issues. Seriously, though, come on. I'm not saying that tobacco use is a wonderful thing with no health effects, but you quit - all by yourself. I'm sure you're now enjoying the fruits of those labors and that's honestly great. What I'm curious about, though, is why you think those choices need to be imposed on other people with the power of law and why you think other people are incapable of making the same choices that you have?

I think plain packaging is a good thing, though. I don't know how much of an effect it would have, but advertising does have the intention of influencing someone to purchase a product, and cigarettes have enough influence on their own.
posted by nTeleKy at 7:31 AM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


As a long-time smoker who simply doesn't have the willingness (currently) to quit, but often briefly and wistfully thinks about it, I think that this makes sense. I'm sure tobacco companies will find ways around this if they "officially" lose, my current brand, Camel Menthol, has one of those "click" balls in the filter, which would not be able to be duplicated except by counterfeiting, and if it tastes the same, well, I probably wouldn't care much.

Perhaps I'm biased, but when I see legislation like this, I wonder what exempts alcohol from this same type of legal vitriol. Granted, smoking is in its own way a more silent and insidious evil, with its most harmful consequences decades out for the new smoker, but considering the overwhelming amount of alcohol=fun, sex, and money marketing on TV and print, and the effect that this has on impressionable minds of all ages in comparison with the potential consequences for people who imbibe too much, you'd think that a stronger warning than "enjoy in moderation" would be proposed at some point. DWIs get a ton of press and have their own ad campaigns, but not so for the "morning after," emotional and physical hangovers experienced, poor decisions made, and potential for substance abuse. Too many people think a problem drinker is the homeless man in a gutter, and not the distant parent/poor employee/miserable escapist that silently suffer.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:32 AM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


If a kindly mod felt like replacing my half-assed post with Mezentian's great one, it'd be great.
posted by Wolof at 7:33 AM on August 15, 2012


*takes out earbuds, looks up, eyes adjusting*

Damn, those are going to look so rad sticking out the pocket of my American Apparel shirt.
posted by resurrexit at 7:36 AM on August 15, 2012


In Australia, does one select their own cigarettes and take them to the counter, or does the person behind the counter get them for you, like in the US? If the latter, I don't see how loyalty would be diminished - long-time smokers will still go up to the counter and ask for a pack of "Marlboro Reds" or whatever, more out of habit than anything.
posted by LionIndex at 7:38 AM on August 15, 2012


I was being facetious nTeleKy (^_^).

We were discussing in IRC though that you barely even see cigarettes for sale in Australia at all - you need to ask for them as they are usually locked away in a type of cupboard. Shame and hassle are more effective deterrents than prohibition.
posted by gomichild at 7:39 AM on August 15, 2012


In Australia, does one select their own cigarettes and take them to the counter, or does the person behind the counter get them for you, like in the US? If the latter, I don't see how loyalty would be diminished - long-time smokers will still go up to the counter and ask for a pack of "Marlboro Reds" or whatever, more out of habit than anything.

Aside from a duty free store, I don't think I've ever seen a store where you pick up your own smokes and bring them to a counter anywhere.
posted by SpannerX at 7:40 AM on August 15, 2012


British American Tobacco CEO David Crow threatened to lower cigarette prices in order to compete, which he claimed could result in higher smoking amongst young people.

"I WILL KILL YOUR CHILDREN", said the not at all cynical man who is certainly not either a drug dealer selling poisons or a completely amoral prick.
posted by jaduncan at 7:42 AM on August 15, 2012 [32 favorites]


In unrelated news, old-fashioned cigarette cases are enjoying a resurgence in popularity with sales up 5000% over last year...
posted by double block and bleed at 7:42 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speaking as an ex-smoker of 12 years, people need to get on the e-cig train. I quit smoking 6 months ago without a single hitch. I've gained a little post-quitting weight, but hot damn these new e-cigs are rad. I went with cig2o brand, 24mg Gold flavor. Yeah, nicotine ain't great for you (hypertension and stuff) but the things don't give you cancer (as far as current testing shows, carcinogen levels are 1000x less than cigs, approximately what you get from walking around a big city in a day) and you don't smell bad, they don't make your lungs hurt at night after an evening of partying, tar stains are gone, etc.

It really is all the shit I loved about smoking (the nicotine, the oral fixation) with none of the side effects. And it is MUCH MUCH MUCH cheaper than buying tobacco in any form.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:43 AM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


We were discussing in IRC though that you barely even see cigarettes for sale in Australia at all - you need to ask for them as they are usually locked away in a type of cupboard. Shame and hassle are more effective deterrents than prohibition.
Yeah, we've gotten that here now as well, but it's still recent enough to be a bit weird.

However, even though I think this locked-cupboard setup and plain packaging will help cut smoking rates, I'm not really a keen supporter.
posted by Jehan at 7:45 AM on August 15, 2012


How would people feel if soda companies were forced to use plain packaging? After all, sugar is killing us slowly, and that's a fact. I, for one, would feel a little sad to lose our classic, often beautiful commercial designs, even if they are representative of large, morally-questionable corporations.

I find both the past and present of commercial design to be full of interesting and impressive works of art. Take the Lucky Strike cigarette box. That is a beautiful, historic design.

I don't smoke cigarettes, but I still think it'd be a shame to throw out all of these classic designs just because people aren't choosing as we'd all prefer them to choose. The battle of informing them is over; they are well informed of the risks they take.
posted by gilrain at 7:45 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there anything to stop them from putting the branding on the cigs?

Like colour the cigarette paper, put designs on there?

The one im smoking now already has the logo/brand on it. So assuming kids get hooked in by branding would moving from the packaging to the product itsself be possible and/or effective?
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:46 AM on August 15, 2012


...prohibiting tobacco company logos on cigarette packs that will instead show cancer-riddled mouths, blinded eyeballs and sickly children.

...tobacco companies... argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed if they are no longer able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on packs of cigarettes.

The government... hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.


Nice try, Australia - but as anyone can plainly see, the cancer-riddled mouth on a pack of Camel Lights is clearly much more glamorous than the blinded eyeballs on a pack of Marlboro Reds.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2012


Shame and hassle are more effective deterrents than prohibition.

Or maybe we could inject a little compassion into the discussion like we do with other addictions. Shaming people into acting how you want them to (even if it is in their best interests) isn't always very effective. This is why places like Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous don't berate people who show up to meetings.
posted by King Bee at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not a smoker but the idea of Repo Man-style generic cigarette packaging seems kind of cool to me actually.

When I moved to Michigan, I switched from Marlboro Lights to Basics (a brand they didn't sell in Illinois back then), in part because they were cheaper but mostly because, COME ON, Basics.

"Hey man, can I bum a Basic?"
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:50 AM on August 15, 2012


Well he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarettes as me
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:53 AM on August 15, 2012


White package, black bold Helvetica: SMOKES

Suddenly every design student smokes a pack a day.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:54 AM on August 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Mezentian: Packaging cigarettes trademarks smoking tobacco advertising health cancer nicotine art design smoke similar legislation being enacted in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and India. Although the US is apparently fighting back.

That should be "cigarette companies in the US."
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says she feels the United States is putting pressure on New Zealand regarding the plain-packaging of tobacco.
...
But Mrs Turia says she suspects the US is putting pressure on.

"It is my feeling because there have been companies in the United States that have come out supporting the tobacco companies and one of the tobacco companies, of course, is from the US, so obviously there is a link there."
Just for clarification.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:54 AM on August 15, 2012


Oh, you are correct. Although I to expect I do expect FEEEDOOOM OF SPEEEECH folks to fight back in the US.
posted by Mezentian at 7:57 AM on August 15, 2012


I know one man who vocally supports his smoking habit. He's not pressing cigarettes on people, or giving kids smokes for Halloween, but when Prop 29 came up in California and was discussed in a local community meeting, he said he was happy being a smoker, and didn't want to stop. Most people, myself included, were confused why he would such a staunch supporter of his smoking.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:57 AM on August 15, 2012


White package, black bold Comic Sans: SMOKES

Problem: solved.
posted by Mezentian at 7:58 AM on August 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Or maybe we could inject a little compassion into the discussion like we do with other addictions.

Is it like other addictions though? It's not illegal and was once widespread.

I quit because I fell pregnant and the mere waft of smoke induced vomiting. In certain cases tough love can be a good thing.
posted by gomichild at 8:01 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was being facetious nTeleKy (^_^).

Ok, good to know :) I just see people honestly advocating for complete tobacco prohibition every now and then.

people need to get on the e-cig train

I still haven't hopped on the bandwagon yet, but it seems like they have the potential to seriously reduce a lot of the health effects of smoking. It would be nice to have some sort of regulation on the "smoke juice" to make sure no one's adding anything sketchy and a sign-off from the FDA allowing their use.
posted by nTeleKy at 8:01 AM on August 15, 2012


I have my doubts, but I do hope that this will have some impact on young potential smokers. One of my great regrets in life is starting smoking.

I wish to god I could find the strength to quit, but after 25 years, I'd probably still buy Camel Lights every day even if I had to wipe blood and viscera off the pack before I could open it.

Go ahead and revile me, if that makes you happy. You can use the other side of your mouth to advocate clean needles for drug addicts, demand that the government legalize pot or drink some vodka.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:03 AM on August 15, 2012


Won't this only spark a revival of decorative cigarette cases?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:06 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish to god I could find the strength to quit
Have you tried Ask?

I have to say, I love the headspins from cigarettes, but that's about it.

I also kinda hate the smell. And by kinda, I mean a lot. From a distance.
But Camel Lights?
You may have an issue.
posted by Mezentian at 8:09 AM on August 15, 2012


When I moved to Michigan, I switched from Marlboro Lights to Basics (a brand they didn't sell in Illinois back then), in part because they were cheaper but mostly because, COME ON, Basics.

OKAY SO

I was 19 when I moved out of my mom's place for the first time. I'm working in a sandwich shop in upstate New York and I'm usually completely broke. Anyway, I'm cleaning my room one night and picking up empty pack of Camels after empty pack of Camels and then, when I'm all done and the garbage bag is in the dumpster, I realize that I threw out a half-full pack. I don't have enough cash to get a new pack of Camels, so I pick up the cheapest cigarettes at the store: Basics.

Anyway, I'm headed down the hill to work and I realize that I forgot my lighter at home. It's the graveyard shift so no one out on the streets. And then I notice an old, clearly homeless dude shambling toward me. So it's either ask this dude for a light or go to work not having had a cigarette, which is a fate worse than death, really. So I ask him for a light -- I had recently moved there from NYC where we generally do not ask favors of the homeless -- and he says "oh, yeah, sure" opens his coat to get the lighter out of his pack of cigarettes and wouldn't you know, we're smoking the same brand.
posted by griphus at 8:15 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find both the past and present of commercial design to be full of interesting and impressive works of art. Take the Lucky Strike cigarette box. That is a beautiful, historic design.

I get this objection, but I think we can take logos off current boxes without disturbing the rich history of cigarette advertising (and I'm not saying rich history ironically). My family's ancestral homeland* is noted for it's Lucky Strike smokestack, which really is one of the more lovely smoke stacks you'll see. Hell, I'm sure if you go a few more generations back my family was full of tobacco farmers and tobacco farming is a huge part of the history of where I'm from, but that time is mostly past now and we all have to learn to live with that.

I like this move because it subtly removes some of the pressure to smoke without doing anything to shame or embarrass current smokers. Honestly, it probably won't really encourage any current smokers to quit, but it will keep people (teenagers/kids) who don't smoke from developing the kind of positive advertising driven associations with smoking that help people start.

*In this context that means "where everyone was from two generations ago, but no one has lived for 20 years
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:17 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bulgaroktonos: without doing anything to shame or embarrass current smokers

You have a point that we don't really lose the designs culturally, just stagnate the future designs that might have been produced in that industry. I still lean towards allowing cigarette companies their commercial design, though.

However, it absolutely is shaming and that is part of the point. How many people would object if the beautiful bottle designs and labels of the alcohol world were legislated away, leaving only a few standard bottle shapes and plain white, labels. Maybe a few graphic photos of mangled children in car accidents, to ensure the consumer is aware of the dangers of drunk driving. If that were the case, I would feel more ashamed of buying alcohol than I do walking into an elegant store stocked with beautiful, if commercial, objets d'art.
posted by gilrain at 8:47 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe a few graphic photos of mangled children in car accidents,

Some how missed the graphic photos bit, that is shaming. I meant that stripping them of logos and putting them in plain paper packages isn't shaming. Consider my comments about shaming withdrawn. I do still love the Lucky Strike smokestack in Reidsville, though.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:58 AM on August 15, 2012


Mezentian: "I wish to god I could find the strength to quit
Have you tried Ask?


I thought the sole purpose of Ask.com was to make what I'm really looking for in a Google search harder to find. Unless you meant "Ask God", which I have, but He's still pissed at me for being an atheist, so he never replies.

I have to say, I love the headspins from cigarettes, but that's about it.

The rush from smoking each cigarette fades after a week or less of regular smoking. By then, you've become a loyal customer.

I also kinda hate the smell. And by kinda, I mean a lot. From a distance.

I loved the smell of my Dad's cigarette smoke when I was a kid. I still like the smell now, though I have a greatly diminished capacity to smell anything.

If you keep on smoking, you won't be able to smell the smoke at all after a while.

But Camel Lights?

Camel Light, Marlboro Red, Basic and all the others are nicotine delivery systems designed to extract as much money as possible from loyal customers before they die. They all taste slightly different to experienced smokers, many of whom pick the brand that strikes the best balance between taste and what they can afford. Others stick with whatever brand they started with in high school. Tobacco companies spend an unbelievable amount of money to influence these decisions.

You may have an issue.

Gee, ya think?
posted by double block and bleed at 8:59 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


An interesting sideshow to this case is the complaint that has been brought against Australia at the WTO by... Honduras, the Dominican Republic and the Ukraine. Those countries allege that Australia's plain packaging legislation restricts trademark owners' WTO-backed IP rights. Cynical minds note that none of these three countries export significant amounts of branded tobacco products to Australia, but that all three are highly ranked in the global corruption leagues. Big Tobacco could try a little harder...
posted by Skeptic at 9:03 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honduras and Dominican Republic make a ton of cigars, though... does the legislation effect cigar branding, as well, or just cigarettes?
posted by gilrain at 9:04 AM on August 15, 2012


"It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack with a skull and crossbones on the front..."
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:07 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just adding an interesting data point on the big hoo haa around the packs themselves and the designs... in huge swathes of the rest of the world, loose cigarettes are sold, and not just from open packs like many may be familiar but loosely displayed out of the packaging. Pics on demand
posted by infini at 9:13 AM on August 15, 2012


gilrain I explicitly wrote "branded tobacco products" rather than cigarrettes because, as it turns out, they don't even export that many cigars to Oz.
posted by Skeptic at 9:17 AM on August 15, 2012


So we want to ban tobacco but legalise marijuana/heroin/cocaine/LSD, am I right?
posted by acb at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Camel Lights?

They are hard to get since they don't exist anymore, fucking Obama banned the word Light in some sort of orwellian masterstroke.They are Camel Blue now.

I am pro-legalization, even though I don't smoke weed, hate the smell of weed. If people keep fucking me on tobacco laws I am going to advocate for tougher marijuana laws every chance I get out of spite ( not to mention being pissed due to lack of nicotine).
posted by Ad hominem at 9:25 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know about you, acb, but I'd settle with allowing the sale of all those drugs, but without multibillion dollar marketing budgets. We could do the same with politics, come to think of it: I'd love a plain packaging marketing campaign.
posted by Skeptic at 9:27 AM on August 15, 2012


in huge swathes of the rest of the world, loose cigarettes are sold

You can get those in New York, just ask for a "loosie". They are almost always menthol though.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:28 AM on August 15, 2012


"Election campaign", sorry.
posted by Skeptic at 9:28 AM on August 15, 2012


Obama banned the word Light in some sort of orwellian masterstroke

Indeed. They haven't banned colors yet here, so I can still order my American Spirits by the color of the pack (which I always had to do anyway). Once colors and descriptors are banned entirely, it will be that much more of a hassle to buy them. I'm not sure how you could ask for Camel over Marlboro or anything else.
posted by King Bee at 9:29 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frankly, generic packaging would be great all across the board. Imagine how boring shopping would be with kiddies unable to see their favorite cereal.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:32 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do cigarette packs in Australia have cellophane wrapping? Could branding still be printed onto this? It seems like the tobacco companies and the government could have worked out something out there.

I, too, am on the e-cig train. I currently buy my fluid from a small mom and pop company online who mix every batch by hand right before shipping. They even make a custom flavor for me that I call "dickerdoodle" (50/50 mix of snickerdoodle cookie and french vanilla.) I don't work for them but if you want the URL send me a MeMail and I'll throw it your way.
posted by hellphish at 9:34 AM on August 15, 2012


it will be that much more of a hassle to buy them.

I pretty much point to the pack I want.

I smoke about 50% RYO now though, I'm about to start hitting up cigar shops for custom RYO blends.

Guys, we will have billion dollar marketing campaigns for drugs if they are legal, we are going to be fighting the same war over packs of Kush Light and Sour Deisel Blue.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:36 AM on August 15, 2012


You get custom mixed e-juice and the flavor reminds me of Penny Arcade?!?

Yes. I need this.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:45 AM on August 15, 2012


Professional white background. What's not to like?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:49 AM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


e-cigs are looking more and more interesting every day. For night time I want e-juice that is a mix of scotch and tobacco, maybe throw a bit of leather in there to spice it up. For nice summer days I want vodka tonic and fresh mown grass e-juice.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:50 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I pretty much point to the pack I want.

When they're 7 feet away from you in the midst of a bunch of other packs? My main problem is that any shopkeep who I inconvenience so much by trying to buy cigarettes makes me feel like such a piece of shit that I wish I had never asked for them in the first place. Hell, even the guy working at the bulk tobacco aisle at the Sam's Club emits a world-weary sigh when I ask him to get me a carton, and that's basically 70% of his job.

This is what I'm talking about. This is what will get me to quit, because the folks who keep the things under lock and key and behind a huge fence (literally) hate me so much when I ask them to get cigarettes for me.
posted by King Bee at 9:50 AM on August 15, 2012


They haven't banned colors yet here, so I can still order my American Spirits by the color of the pack (which I always had to do anyway).

Seriously, I always joked that they switched from 'light' to 'whatever color' to make it easier to buy them.

Me: Could I get a pack of Camel Lights?
Cashier: [fumbling confusedly] Cam...el?
M: Camel Lights, yeah, thanks.
C: [rummages, holds up Marlboro Reds] Arglebargle?
M: No, Camel Lights. LIGHTS.
C: *Happy campers* like playing *spicy games*?
M: THE BLUE ONES. RIGHT THERE. BLUE.
C: Sure thing bud, that'll be five twenty five. [begins keening and emitting orange light from the mouth and nostrils as I pull out my money]
posted by FatherDagon at 9:50 AM on August 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wow. That was a pretty unexpected Star Control reference.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:57 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


When they're 7 feet away from you in the midst of a bunch of other packs?

I live in New York, stores are small here. I can almost reach across the counter and grab them myself. I also tend to buy packs before bed so I don't wake up with no cigarettes. At 4am there is nobody in the store, but I do have to get the cashier out of the back or wherever he is hiding.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:58 AM on August 15, 2012


So when are they going to change the packaging on candy cigarettes?
posted by mazola at 9:59 AM on August 15, 2012


This reminds me of the Designed to Annoy post from a while back. As much as that was mocked, I do think it would help.
posted by Hactar at 10:01 AM on August 15, 2012


Came for the Helvetica jokes, stayed for the Orz selling FatherDagon cigarettes. That Australian High Court -- always *jumping in front*!
posted by en forme de poire at 10:32 AM on August 15, 2012


So when are they going to change the packaging on candy cigarettes?

Been there.
posted by raena at 10:37 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Comparing cigarettes to alcohol or sugar always makes me irrationally angry. Yes, they are killing people too. No, they are not the same as cigarettes.

Cigarettes affect other people in ways that alcohol and sugar can only dream at. There is no secondhand alcohol or secondhand sugar. Smoking a cigarette may be a personal choice, but the act is far from individual.

My favorite example: At the bar, someone spills their rum and coke on their neighbor and another exhales their drag. One person is an jerk and the other is damaging the lung tissue of everyone in the room.

Screw your rationalizations.
posted by Vysharra at 11:06 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no secondhand alcohol

Tell that to road fatality statistics.

or secondhand sugar

I've had a lot of secondhand sugar spill over onto me on crowded buses and trains.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:09 AM on August 15, 2012


Yeah, drunk driving is pretty much as deadly a second hand effect as you can get -- much worse than second hand smoke, in terms of raw danger. Not that second hand smoke is anything to laugh about, of course.

And second hand sugar, are you kidding? I can't buy sliced bread that doesn't have sugar in it, for instance. Unless you have the money and time to cook everything from fresh, you're getting tons of second hand sugar and it's been incredible harmful to society already.
posted by gilrain at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell that to road fatality statistics.
False equivalency is false.

Steps to Killing Another Person with Alcohol - Vehicular Manslaughter Edition:
1. Consume alcohol
2. Get in a car
3. Drive car

Steps to Killing Another Person with Cigarettes - Comprehensive Edition:
1. Smoke cigarettes
posted by Vysharra at 11:16 AM on August 15, 2012


Vysharra: Steps to Killing Another Person with Cigarettes - Comprehensive Edition: 1. Smoke cigarettes

That is disturbingly hyperbolic. Just as you point out that a drunk can choose not to drive and thus mitigate his effect on society, so too can a smoker decide to smoke responsibly and thus mitigate his effect on society. You can't make one argument and deny the other, sorry.
posted by gilrain at 11:21 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


e-cigs are looking more and more interesting every day.

Nicotine replacement therapy is all shit. All it did was kept me addicted and craving the real thing.

OTOH, I'll have quit a full twelve months in September. Effortlessly, and without cravings, after smoking two packs a day for over thirty years.

Champix, baby. That stuff is magic.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:23 AM on August 15, 2012


It might be all shit for you. It worked for me.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:24 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Steps to killing people with a car - Environmental Polution Edition:

1) start your car, releasing poisionous fumes into the environment.
2) drive around, spreading a fog of death upon the landscape.

You might get a lungful of sweet sweet second hand smoke if you come into my apartment, but we have millions of miles of roadway, crawling with moving death machines spewing toxic chemicals.

The last thread I offerent to quit smoking if one person who currently drives quits driving.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't smoke, but the design of cigarette packs is really beautiful (Camel, in particular, and lucky strike) and almost makes me want to start. Almost.

So, I think this could work, especially in preventing people from starting.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2012


Gilrain,

The act of consuming alcohol (as defined by pouring a drink and then drinking it) actively harms no one but the drinker. The movement of liquid from glass to mouth and even ensuing beer belches does no other person physical harm. Secondary results like drunk driving/violence/job loss are just that: secondary. You could have argued about a pregnant drinker, and I would have given you that point. However, in all other circumstances, the alcohol and it's harmful effects stay in the person who drank it.

The act of consuming sugar (as defined by picking up something with sugar in it and then consuming it) actively harms no one but the eater. The movement of food or drink from hand to mouth and even the ensuing pungent flatulence does no other person physical harm (although it may feel like it at the time). Secondary results like family health costs are just that: secondary. You may have argued about a pregnant eater, and I would have given you that point. However, in all other circumstances, the sugar and it's harmful effects stay in the person who ate it.

The act of consuming a cigarette (as defined by lighting and smoking a cigarette) actively harms everyone nearby. Inhaling cigarette smoke is harmful to no one but the smoker, but exhaling it does physical harm to anyone who shares the same air. Children and spouses of smokers, coworkers, bar patrons, restaurant patrons, upstairs neighbors, anyone exiting and entering a building - these groups all experience the direct effect of another person consuming a cigarette.

Secondhand smoke is a real problem that has been linked to SIDS, asthma, respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. Smoking a cigarette and poisoning the air are the same thing. You can choose to avoid driving when you have a drink, you can choose to avoid sugar when consuming bread but you cannot choose to not contaminate the air when you smoke.
posted by Vysharra at 12:00 PM on August 15, 2012


Nicotine replacement therapy is all shit. All it did was kept me addicted and craving the real thing.

YMMV. I quit with the patch and it was essential and effective for me. Nicotine replacement numbers aren't amazing but there's a solid benefit. Bupropion (Wellbutrin or Zyban) and Varenicline (Chantix) are like miracle drugs for some people but they don't work so well for everyone.
posted by nanojath at 12:07 PM on August 15, 2012


The act of consuming a cigarette (as defined by lighting and smoking a cigarette) actively harms everyone nearby.

So are you fine with it if I smoke as long as no one is nearby?
posted by King Bee at 12:07 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


How long till the first plain box with a free bonus rattle inside?
posted by darksasami at 12:14 PM on August 15, 2012


I also tend to buy packs before bed so I don't wake up with no cigarettes.

That certainly sounds like an addiction, yes.
posted by Space_Lady at 1:17 PM on August 15, 2012


"It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are; you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front, called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, "I can't wait to get my hands on these fucking things!"

Yeah, smokers would love this - black death and skull & crossbones is way too cool. It would have to be boring and slightly bad design, with unnecessary italics, mismatched fonts, flourishes, bold american colors... Or maybe something in lavender with soft flowers and random women's hands that makes it look like you might have bought tampons.

Sure, some people will love any design and see even the worst as ironic and hilarious. But you have to have a certain amount of confidence to wear or carry something ironically. At one time cigarettes were an automatic indicator of coolness; they lose 90% of their high school value if you would have to make them cool.

- not that design is everything - they are still dangerous and therefore can be seen as rebellious and cool. But the more regulated and generic they get, the less appealing I'd bet younger people will find them.
posted by mdn at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are touch-screen vending machines at some stores in Sydney. Only the man behind the counter has access though, so the smoker still has to explicitly ask for a brand. No cigarettes are on display anywhere. So, I guess plain packaging will do nothing for the existing smokers. But I think this is a battle about keeping cigarettes away from the next generation, and plain packaging would surely help with that.

Also, I don't have a link handy, but I think I saw some statistics somewhere showing the progress Australians have made in cutting down smoking. Something a fall from 40% of populace smoking down to only 10% now.
posted by vidur at 1:49 PM on August 15, 2012


I take great pains to only smoke outside, either alone or with other smokers, away from non-smokers. It's unfortunate that the smokers in your life don't show you the same consideration.

I can't justify smoking. I think it's a horrible thing that I wish I had never started. However, I'd argue that alcoholism has had a far greater detrimental effect on others than cigarette smoking has, since we're comparing two addictions. Secondhand smoke is a real thing but I think that it pales in comparison to the secondhand effects of alcoholic behaviors. I can't think of any realistic scenario where smoking can cause the often violent repercussions for others that alcoholism does.

If you're drunk, you can choose to not drive but you're probably going home regardless of how you get there.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:18 PM on August 15, 2012


That's right, the look or appearance of things makes no difference whatsoever. Companies that pay graphic designers to design packaging are wasting money, you need to tell them quick!

If gas stations were disallowed to use logos or identifying trademarks in their signage, I'm pretty sure I'd still buy just as much gasoline as I do now.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:22 PM on August 15, 2012


I know one man who vocally supports his smoking habit. He's not pressing cigarettes on people, or giving kids smokes for Halloween, but when Prop 29 came up in California and was discussed in a local community meeting, he said he was happy being a smoker, and didn't want to stop. Most people, myself included, were confused why he would such a staunch supporter of his smoking.

So? It's a risk you take. Smoking is a very pleasurable experience for some. Most of the experience of smoking was incredibly pleasurable for me, and not just the quenching of the addiction, but the ritual, the small talk and bonding with other smokers, exhaling the smoke, the breaks, the atmosphere, the smell, the calming effect, the fiddling with the cigarette, many things. Other things were not nice.

I quit not because i didn't love smoking, but because for me personally the risk was too big, and ill effects were already noticeable. I feel better overall, and it's nice to not be tied to something like that, but damn if i don't miss it almost every day.


Cigarettes affect other people in ways that alcohol and sugar can only dream at. There is no secondhand alcohol or secondhand sugar.

No secondhand alcohol? I'll take a few years of secondhand smoke to getting into a car with a drunk at the wheel... Hell, my family and friends always get worried when i'm the designated driver on holidays (and not because i might drink ;-)

And second hand sugar, are you kidding? I can't buy sliced bread that doesn't have sugar in it, for instance. Unless you have the money and time to cook everything from fresh, you're getting tons of second hand sugar and it's been incredible harmful to society already.

Seriously, at least here in the US, everything has sugar. The other day i was looking for breadcrumbs (you know, bread, made into crumbs), and when i managed to find the one that didn't have 20 different chemicals, the ingredients read: bread, some preservative, and sugar. Fucking breadcrumbs, with added sugar. Not to mention that everything tastes way too sweet, and i'm from the land of the dulce de leche.

Steps to Killing Another Person with Cigarettes - Comprehensive Edition:
1. Smoke cigarettes


... standing very close to them, for several decades... maybe.

Cigarette kills people, clearly, but if it were that easy the problem would solve itself pretty quickly.
posted by palbo at 3:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me, if this annoys Big Tobacco - that death peddling, lie spewing industry of evil, then I am totally in favour. I don't even care if it does or doesn't reduce smoking (but probably it will, as discussed above.) I rant furiously at the tv when shopkeepers whine about how this will reduce their profits: "You're selling illness and disease! You should be ashamed of yourselves!"
posted by thylacinthine at 3:39 PM on August 15, 2012


vidur: I think this is a battle about keeping cigarettes away from the next generation

It is. From what I've read, a number of anti-smoking researcher/activists are warming to the idea that efforts to encourage quitting have just about hit a wall (of incorrigible smokers and the black market) and further taxes/shaming will simply be punishing smokers who cannot quit (most of whom are already poor).

Someone (I always want to say it was Mark Kleiman but I can't find the source) suggested smoking licenses as the ideal way to (virtually) eliminate cigarette-smoking down the road without unduly punishing current smokers along the way with increasing sin-taxes. Licenses go to the current incorrigible smokers (30+, 3 Dr-documented quit-attempts, choose your criteria) to allow them to purchase cigarettes with a realistic sin-tax and pile on the tax for the unlicensed (mostly the young new-, never-, and social-smokers). The second half stops 10-20% of a generation becoming smokers, the first half stops dedicated smokers from growing the black market (and further impoverishing the hopelessly addicted). The idea has a certain appeal.

Ad hominem: e-cigs are looking more and more interesting every day. For night time I want e-juice that is a mix of scotch and tobacco, maybe throw a bit of leather in there to spice it up. For nice summer days I want vodka tonic and fresh mown grass e-juice.

There are places (like hellphish mentioned) who can mix this for you.
posted by K.P. at 3:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The discussions on alcohol-driven road accident deaths and secondhand smoking got me curious, so I made a very crude and probably deeply flawed attempt to compare how dangerous the two are.

Total number of deaths in road traffic accidents in Australia was 1,465 in 2008. One third of accidents involve alcohol, so we're potentially talking about 488 deaths at most. From the same link, increasing blood alcohol content by 0.05 doubles the risk, but 65% of drunk drivers were about 4 times that level. So, let's guess that the typical BAC is 0.15, corresponding to an 8-times higher risk. So, I'll guess that of those 488 people, only 1/8 of them would have died anyway as a consequence of the baseline risk, bringing us to 427 deaths. From here I see that about 1/3 of casualties in road accidents are passengers rather than drivers, coming to a figure of 147. Of course, that's a little oversimplistic since some crashes have two cars and hence two drivers, only one of whom may be drunk, but both of whom might die. But given how many dodgy assumptions I'm making, I'll just arbitrarily bump this up to a number of 200 or so.

I can't say I trust that analysis all that much, but it's interesting to compare to the two studies on secondhand smoke deaths discussed here. The more conservative study estimated a figure of 141, similar to my crude ballpark estimate for the number of people killed by other people's drink driving, whereas the one that included a broader range of diseases estimated a figure of 4184; but admitted that this drops to 3464 if this is limited to only those diseases for which very strong evidence of a secondhand smoke effect exists. The smaller figure comes from the government, whereas the larger figure comes from the Cancer Council NSW, which I suspect explains part of the methodological differences. But neither group strikes me as untrustworthy, so I'm happy to treat both studies as valid, just based on quite different perspectives on the problem.

Overall then, I get the impression that, at a minimum, death caused by secondhand smoke is just as commonplace as getting killed by someone else's drunk driving; but it might be a lot higher. Make of that what you will, I suppose.
posted by mixing at 3:44 PM on August 15, 2012


And as anecdata, i used to smoke a pack a day back home, where the smokes were cheap and i could smoke in my apartment. When i moved to Norway, when it's very expensive, you can't really smoke inside or in most places, and you have to get fully dressed to go out for a smoke in the cold, i immediately fell to about 7 or 8 smokes a day, and eventually transitioned to mostly a party smoker. I've now quit completely, the relatively lack of smokers in California helped quite a bit. (But mostly it was my also-ex-smoker friends that scold me voraciously when i fall for a smoke).

And i support any initiative that gets people to stop or not even pick up smoking. Bonus points if it annoys big tobacco.
posted by palbo at 3:45 PM on August 15, 2012


I also tend to buy packs before bed so I don't wake up with no cigarettes.

That's me and diet coke.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:57 PM on August 15, 2012


Nice almost post Mezentian.

I would just have added a previously. And for those who scoff at the effectiveness of this, watch this UK ad clip.
posted by wilful at 4:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mezentian: White package, black bold Comic Sans: SMOKES

Problem: solved.


If the comic sans doesn't turn them off, nothing will.
posted by chapps at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2012


Comic sans was redeemed by the Higgs-Boson, man.

We're hating on Papyrus mostly these days.
posted by Mezentian at 8:20 PM on August 15, 2012


So, here's the thing. North Carolina banned smoking in public restaurants and bars a while back; there was a hue and cry from every quarter. After all, North Carolina is part of the historic center of tobacco; R.J. Reynolds and American Tobacco were about two hours apart (Winston-Salem and Durham), and Phillip Morris was a few hours up the road in Virginia. Lorillard's in Greensboro. Point being, we've historically been peddlers of disease.

Funny thing is, nobody complains anymore. The smokers, diminished to less than a quarter of the population, probably find it an inconvenience; but the restaurants are more crowded, more pleasant, and more sanitary than ever. I can even go to a bar without feeling out of place.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


We banned smoking in all enclosed public places a while ago too (Melbourne). Not too many people were all that fussed then, and now nobody's fussed at all.
posted by wilful at 10:52 PM on August 15, 2012


That's not true.
The AHA warned that you wouldn't be able to go out and enjoy a meal and a drink anymore because all the pubs and clubs would shut.
And now there's not a single pub in all of Victoria.

And poor old Big Clean is suffering, because people are taking less steps to de-smellify.
posted by Mezentian at 11:02 PM on August 15, 2012


White package, black bold Comic Sans: SMOKES

Problem: solved.


Are you advocating the mass murder of moms?
posted by srboisvert at 7:54 AM on August 16, 2012


Overall then, I get the impression that, at a minimum, death caused by secondhand smoke is just as commonplace as getting killed by someone else's drunk driving; but it might be a lot higher. Make of that what you will, I suppose.

I grew up in a house with a chain smoker. I didn't know I stank like an ashtray. I didn't know that a lot girls found it gross. I had two severe respiratory infections (anecdata, I know) but I was actually confined to my bedroom for those two winters in a row because I couldn't be in the rest of the house or the smoke would make me cough until I puked. I hated going anywhere in a car. About a fifth of our grocery budget went to smokes every week. Maybe instead of toughskin jeans and north star runners I could have had levis and adidas. As an adult I avoided going out before the wonderful smoking bans came into affect.

Killing people is the most extreme possible consequence of smoking. There are hundreds of other small sneaky consequences that smokers impose on others.
posted by srboisvert at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a blind smoke lineup.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2012


Nicotine replacement therapy is all shit. All it did was kept me addicted and craving the real thing.

Not me. E-cigarettes were an invaluable stopgap between when I quit smoking cigarettes and when I quit nicotine altogether...and I have to be honest here and say that when you quit smoking cigarettes, I'm pretty sure you have also quit nicotine, e-cigarette or not. Full disclosure: I smoked Marlboro reds and a lot of them, so YMMV may vary vis a vis just how adequately e-cigarettes compensate for actual smoking, but in a word? Weakass. There is really no comparison at all, whatsoever at all. However, the e-cigarette -- regardless of whether there's enough nicotine in it to qualify as anything like a cigarette -- is the best stand-in for a cigarette that has ever fucking existed. Which is to say: While I genuinely do not believe there is enough nicotine in the average e-cigarette to talk about, your physical addiction to nicotine will only survive a short while in the absence of smoking; it's the mental addiction that's the lasting problem, and that's the problem the e-cigarette solves. For me, putting down the e-cigarette was kind of a cakewalk as soon as I was done messing with it, because it simply wasn't doing anything physically for me. I don't think that there's anything physically addictive about e-cigarettes, speaking exclusively from personal experience.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:48 PM on August 16, 2012


The point I was trying to make is that there are behaviors that go along with alcoholism that usually don't go along with cigarette smoking.

Unlike alcohol, I'm unaware of anyone who has been beaten or emotionally abused at home solely because the abuser smoked too many cigarettes. This may not result in death but it is one of the terrible things that should be taken into account in this discussion.

Scarred lungs are more obvious than scarred emotions. Death is not the only result of addiction.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:36 AM on August 18, 2012


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