Australia Moves To Make Cigarette Packaging “Ugly” With Graphic Pictures and Unattractive Coloring

Australia is upping the ante in the war on smoking. Previously we saw how some countries have put disgusting pictures on cigarette packages to discourage smoking. Now, Australia is set to require “ugly packaging” where companies are prevented from putting their logos on cigarettes and must use the least attractive color found in government research for smokers: dark green. (For the record, dark green is my favorite color and this move is likely to push me toward smoking).

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says she wants all cigarette packaging to be olive green. In addition, “health warnings and graphic pictures depicting the dangers of smoking would take up 90 per cent of the front of packs, and 75 per cent of the back.”

I have always found these measures excessive, even though I do not like smoking. If smoking is legal, I fail to see why non-smokers should force smokers to carry around such packaging that borders on majoritarian harassment in my view. We can certainly have a good-faith debate on banning tobacco, but, if it is to continue to be legal, these measures strike me a marginally useful and pretty obnoxious.

Nevertheless, this is the trend in a variety of countries to make smoking less glamorous, including such graphic pictures below. What do you think?

Source: News

21 thoughts on “Australia Moves To Make Cigarette Packaging “Ugly” With Graphic Pictures and Unattractive Coloring”

  1. Bruce,

    The government already can regulate corporate speech when they choose the exercise their powers in the interests of citizens over the interests of corporations.

    When was the last time you saw an ad for cigarettes on TV?

    It was Congress’ paid off choice to allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise that you have to thank for being bombarded the ads for boner medicine 24/7 and four page magazine ads for the drug du jour.

    No changes to the 1st Amendment are required for that purpose.

    Just a lot less graft.

    What is required is an amendment that says corporations are not allowed to participate in the electoral process or legislation to that effect.

  2. It may not work, but it’s certainly the prerogative of the Australian government to try do what it can to discourage smoking by making the packages unappealing on the store shelves. It’s hardly “harassment” of the smoker – he’s free to put the cigs in a stylish case once he’s bought them, or hide his ugly pack in a pocket.

    Some advertising campaigns have been effective in reducing teen smoking:…-a071955934

    @smallguvguy – prohibition can’t be enforced except with harshly repressive measures; in a relatively open society, it generates black markets, enriches organized crime and sends too many people the prison. “You can have a free country or a drug-free country, but not both.”

    I don’t think Australia has a 1st Amendment. And I’d be willing to modify ours to allow the government to regulate tobacco and other drug packaging and advertising.

  3. put pictures of 70&80 y/o male and female genitalia on the package. no teenager would be caught dead with a pack.

  4. @Pat: For teens, what is “cool” is actually rebellion against authority. This is deeply ingrained in our psyche, we can even see the psychology at the equivalent age of late teens for wild chimps, gorillas and bonobos. Apparently there is some reproductive advantage to this behavior; both for the rebelling males and the peer-aged females sexually attracted to the rebel bad boys.

    Make it look as bad as you want, that either won’t make a difference or will backfire, for the obvious reasons. post-pubescent children crave independence and life as an adult. They are wired for it by evolution; they should be reproducing already, and we still have them in high school (and college) and are treating them like children. If they do not physically escape their dependency they will do it mentally; by rebelling against authoritarian rule, or engaging in actions “reserved” for adults. Smoking, sex, drinking, speeding, vandalism, theft, daredevil stunts.

    The point is rebellion, and rebellion isn’t supposed to be safe. In fact the more unsafe it is, the cooler it will seem (if pulled off successfully).

  5. Almost 70 years ago, Lucky Strike dropped the dark green off its package and claimed that the pigments went to war, followed by a huge sales boost. in its new white pack. Cheaper and patriotic, too.

  6. @Jonathan, et. al –

    I think you are missing the key goals here.

    The goal isn’t to get existing hardcore smokers to stop, as pointed out the hardcore smokers will not care what the packaging looks like.

    The goals that this packaging DOES accomplish is:

    1) ugly packages reduces the appeal and “glamour” of smoking
    2) show teenagers and 20-somethings, who are concerned about looks and sex appeal, that smoking will make them u-g-l-y.
    3) give another reason to marginal smokers to quit
    4) reinforce the anti-smoking message in schools and PSA on TVs
    5) reduce the cost to society of preventable illnesses such as lung cancer.

    This is negative advertising, just like negative political advertising.

    The real metric to watch is the derivative of the new smokers per capita per year. (i.e. is the new smoker trend going up or down?)

    @smallguvguy —
    Prohibition increases the “coolness” factor. To stop smoking, governments want to make it legal, expensive, and uncool.

  7. Much of my family are smokers; they would laugh at this. If you want to put disgusting pictures on them: They will collect them; or pick a favorite and request it from the cashier: “Could I get the bloody lung? Thanks, dude.”

    Addiction knows no bounds. My Aunt Rosalie required quadruple bypass surgery; and the day after her surgery she broke stitches by getting out of her recovery bed and making her way outside with her IV, in the snow and freezing weather, to smoke the cigarettes her son had smuggled in for her.

    If the Australian government thinks an ugly box is going to curb that kind of behavior, we need to find out what they’re smokin’.

  8. Although I can’t stand smoking, this excessive requirement reminds me a little bit of Hester Prynne and the Scarlet Letter!

  9. “Take an ugly woman to be your wife” was a popular song once…

    butt ugly gives new meaning to that little ditty …

  10. If the Australian government feels cigarettes are so dangerous, aren’t they morally obligated to ban them?

  11. Probably most smokers would still smoke as I and others have suggested and to add insult to injury as they smoke they would probably discuss the art work or the message that is on the pack of cigarettes.

  12. eniobob…..maybe we need to check with each other before posting….ditto…

  13. And if you are going to smoke….well…you’re going to smoke…just like drinking…people do it….so…unless you can find the cause of doing destructive things to our body’s….well…people will do what they think makes them feel good…at least for the moment….

  14. This will be a real challenge for packaging designers.

    Shouldn’t they be requiring the same thing for liquor packaging … how about big billboards of starving children on all casino buildings … perhaps large paintings of herpes infected genitalia on all porn shops … large posters of gunshot wounds on all firearms establishments … depictions of vomit over the doors of all bars/pubs ….

    Hell, take puzzling’s suggestion … buy a cigarette case

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