Monday 29 October 2012

First plain packs arrive in Oz

I'm grateful to an Australian reader for sending me photos of what the new 'plain' packaged cigarettes look like. The cigarettes below are the same brand, albeit different sized packs.

Note the near-meaningless lettering on the cigarettes themselves. The legislation forbids the stamp to have any relation to the brand—God knows why—and, as mentioned in the previous post, the loons are already complaining that this arbitrary rule is somehow being breached.

This is pretty underwhelming stuff. It beggars belief that millions of dollars have been spent battling for this makeover. Presumably somebody out there thinks that if the health warning has a yellow background, people will suddenly notice that smoking is not good for them?

Despite the protestations of the pro-plain pack campaigners, it seems quite obvious that the new packs are considerably easier to counterfeit. Nothing is embossed, only a few colours are used and the fonts are basic. The absence of branding on the cigarettes themselves mean that counterfeiters can stick the same batch of cigarettes in any box. I also see that the gold stripe at the filter has also been banned—that should save the black marketeers a few bucks. The whole plain pack ruse might as well be designed to help the illicit market. What fools these people are.

Meanwhile, to nobody's great surprise, plain packs are already giving retailers a headache.

Hughes IGA supermarket owner Michael Makas said he had sold a few of the new packets, which are required by law to be plain, except for health warnings and brand names. He said selling the new packets was already a "logistical nightmare" because his staff had problems distinguishing between brands.

Surely not!

7-Eleven worker Reece Cheng told The Age the plain packets create confusion for shop owners and customers alike.

"About 30 to 40 per cent of the cigarettes have already moved to the new packaging. It's very confusing I have to say because the new packaging is all the same. "Normally we memorise the whole display by the colours because people always ask for the colours."

This cannot be true, of course, for there is [cough] peer-reviewed evidence which proves that making dozens of cigarette brands virtually indistinguishable will make life easier for retailers. Like this, from the black-is-white quasi-journal Tobacco Control:

Conclusion: Rather than plain packaging requiring an additional 45 s per transaction, our results suggest that it will, if anything, modestly decrease transaction times and selection errors.

So that's that cleared up then (see Dick Puddlecote for more details about that particular piece of 'research'). Onwards and upwards!


Curmudgeon said...

The lack of a brand name at the top of the front of the pack will clearly make it more difficult to identify a particular brand on the shelves.

nisakiman said...

The lack of a brand name at the top of the front of the pack will clearly make it more difficult to identify a particular brand on the shelves.

However, since the shelves are no longer visible (display bans) that then begets yet another layer of confusion.

Which was probably the intention.

Ye Gods, they are such a despicable shower of killjoys. Welcome to the New World of Uniformity and Joylessness. Be prepared to be processed.

Ivan D said...

Sadly, peer review is yet another much mourned casualty of the zealots' endless political activism. It is now meaningless.

Pass me the hammer if you are still working on that spaceship.

Anonymous said...

Trying to comment.

Anonymous said...

Ah! Success!
I found out, via Karl Phillip's site, that Blogger and Wordpress are not always 'compatible', but I have found a way...
I was going to say how wonderful if smokers AND DRINKER in Australia were to go on strike for, say, three months, buying no tobacco or alcohol which is taxed.

It would require some organising of course. The idea would be to prepare for six months (to give time to learn to make beer and wine and to grow your own baccy) and then suddenly stop buying anything with duty (including also petrol to the extent possible).

Hit the government hard in the tax bracket.