Australia is a world leader in the battle against smoking. The government there has announced plans to require cigarette manufacturers to remove all branding colors and logos from cigarette packs, beginning July, 2012.
The Australian government has also announced an immediate 25% hike in the cigarette tax, meaning that a pack of 30 cigarettes will now cost an extra tax of $2 AUD. Of all attempts to reduce smoking, higher taxation and a ban on advertising and promotion are two of the most effective strategies. Mandating plain packing should also be highly effective.
To be clear, the packs themselves will not be plain—the colors will be bland with health warnings and graphic images of the diseases linked with smoking, although manufacturers’ names will be allowed.
This move by the Australian government is a reaction to research reporting that the appearance of a pack of cigarettes makes a significant difference when it comes to kids and smoking. An April 2010 article in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that: “Removing as much brand information from cigarette packs as possible is likely to reduce positive cigarette brand image associations among adolescents. By additionally increasing the size of pictorial health warnings, positive pack perceptions of those who are at greater risk of becoming regular addicted adult smokers are most likely to be reduced.”
It’s time for North Americans to get involved in protecting kids from smoking addictions. You can contact your elected representatives and encourage them to initiate legislation similar to Australia’s.