More on plain packaging

April 23rd, 2012 at 1:25 pm by David Farrar

Martin Johnson at NZ Herald reports:

The claim by New Zealand’s main companies that will not reduce the prevalence of smoking has been dismissed by a researcher who tested the concept.

Okay, so what was tested.

One study Professor Hoek cited involved group discussions and in-depth interviews with 86 young adults, both smokers and non-smokers, about tobacco packaging including their views about sample plain white packets with expanded health warnings which they were shown.

“That just doesn’t look trendy at all … it’s just budget … it’s like, lame,” one participant said of the plain packaging, according to a paper published in the journal Qualitative Health Research last December.

Other comments included:

“There’s just nothing attractive with it. There isn’t a cool colour, there isn’t any kind of marking that would grab you.”

“For someone who’s starting smoking … it’d be a lot harder to identify with a brand if it’s just colourless.”

So let us accept that packaging can affect whether a packet looks trendy or cool.

The paper concludes that, given tobacco companies’ huge efforts to develop brands that appealed to young adults, “it is logical to assume that decreasing these appeals would, over time, reduce the behaviours they stimulate and support”.

But this is the leap of faith. It is all based on an assumption that having packets with less appeal, will lead to less people smoking.

The reverse psychology that as tobacco companies spend huge money on developing brands that appeal, then getting rid of the brands will decrease demand is also flawed. Because we do not know whether the brands attract smokers to that particular brand, or attract someone to become and remain a smoker.

That is what I’d like to see research on.

I would note that smoking prevalence has been dropping consistently, despite the more sophisticated branding compared to a generation ago.

If there is actual research showing that plain packaging reduces the smoking rate (as opposed to reduces the attractiveness of a packet), then there would be a stronger case for plain packaging.

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65 Responses to “More on plain packaging”

  1. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Practically everyone I know who smokes does so with rollies. They wouldn’t care if their tobacco came wrapped in tinfoil.

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  2. Flyer (22 comments) says:

    I’m sure their shareholders will be pleased to know they can save all that money wasted on branding without affecting demand!

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  3. Ryan Sproull (7,137 comments) says:

    So tobacco companies are saying, “Go for it. Plain-package away. It’s not going to reduce our sales.”

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  4. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    When I was a smoker, I’d smoke any brand. I bought the cheapest and bludged any kind except menthol. In those days we had our dinky little Ronson lighters and a flip-top cigarette case we emptied the packet into. What’s the betting they come back?
    That was the 60’s so a bit of retro appeal too. And you can’t tell what brand they are.

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  5. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Flyer

    The branding has no effect on demand as such. It may well, however, affect the choice of cigarette but when a smoker chooses brand ‘a’ all that happens is that brand ‘b’ declines accordingly. There is no change whatever in the overall quantity of cigarettes sold.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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  6. Kimble (4,438 comments) says:

    “it is logical to assume that decreasing these appeals would, over time, reduce the behaviours they stimulate and support”

    But do those behaviours include smoking?

    Or are the only affected behaviours product differentiation and aesthetic preference?

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  7. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    I’d like all political parties to have plain packaging. They’re all hazardous to our health. Or perhaps we could legislate for their packaging to depict graphic images of nanny state disease, wallet pillage illness etc.

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  8. Ryan Sproull (7,137 comments) says:

    I’d like all political parties to have plain packaging. They’re all hazardous to our health. Or perhaps we could legislate for their packaging to depict graphic images of nanny state disease, wallet pillage illness etc.

    It would certainly be interesting if we voted for Party A, Party B, Party C, etc., based purely on a rundown of their policies.

    (Yes, yes, I know we’re supposed to know who the people are so that we can trust them with making decisions on our behalf. But you know what I mean.)

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  9. cha (4,010 comments) says:

    Or perhaps we could legislate for their packaging to depict graphic images of nanny state disease, wallet pillage illness etc.

    Like this KK?.
    Example.

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  10. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    cha – ha ha, yes, let’s make ‘em do it :)

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  11. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Here is the big problem.

    We have very little concrete evidence that this move will significantly assist the policy goal of preventing smoking. Indeed, it seems more likely that the reason for colourful cigarette packages is to develop loyalty within the market rather than expanding the market.

    Despite that, a law change preventing cigarette manufacturers from branding their cigarettes will probably take place because I can’t think of anyone, even in this centre-right government, who will instinctually be against imposing more regulation on commerce where there are no measurable gains for doing so.

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  12. Put it away (2,878 comments) says:

    Weed comes in plain packaging, and yet somehow it sells

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  13. Yvette (2,819 comments) says:

    The smoking Nazis seek a way to stop smoking, but with a modicum of humanity allow those already addicted to continue.
    So have a smoker’s licence, like as a drivers licence, to buy tobacco products.
    Allow a period of three months for any smoker to obtain one.
    Not available to under-eighteens.
    After three months replace lost licences at a cost, but issue no more.

    Smokers not taking the trouble to get a licence can’t be that addicted to need one.
    Allow temporary licences for tourists.
    Result – no new smokers, those continuing to smoke stop by attrition.
    Government taxes ease. Manufacturer looses market and quits.

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  14. Yvette (2,819 comments) says:

    Result – no new smokers, those continuing to smoke stop by attrition*.
    * means they fucking die

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  15. nasska (11,491 comments) says:

    Yvette

    ….”have a smoker’s licence, like as a drivers licence, to buy tobacco products.”….

    That would involve a bureaucracy of five hundred no hopers at a minimum. Probably another Government Dept…..maybe the Ministry of Non Smoking & State Mind Control.

    No sale!

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  16. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    All that will happen, is they will sell flash looking sleeves of some description that you then put your smoke packet inside of, kind of like you can get for lighters.

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  17. Yvette (2,819 comments) says:

    That would involve a bureaucracy of five hundred no hopers at a minimum. Probably another Government Dept…..maybe the Ministry of Non Smoking & State Mind Control.

    Your estimation is probably about as silly as you intended it to sound.
    I would rather they spend cash on a self-funding system along these lines than give lawyers millions to fight the tobacco industry over unproven plain packaging.
    Regarding the “State Mind Control”, I assume you are still driving using the old right hand rule. i’ll watch out for you.

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  18. Johnboy (16,529 comments) says:

    I hope you are not trying to deny Barristers a fair (ly good,— in fact luxurious) living Yvette? :)

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  19. nasska (11,491 comments) says:

    Yvette

    Well, you got that part right…it was a silly wind up to an equally silly suggestion. What on earth does it matter if people wish to smoke themselves to death? It’s their lives…..not yours & not mine.

    Time for the Government aided do gooders to butt out of peoples lives.

    And I’m not a smoker.

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  20. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Nasska: I am pretty much with you…I understand that the tax take on cigs already exceeds the smoking relating health cost? someone may wish to confirm whether that is so.

    If it is, then losers can smoke themselves to death for all I care…But at the proposed $100 a packet by 2015 or whatever it is, all that is going to do is create a lucrative black market for stolen or illegally imported cigarettes I would have thought.

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  21. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DG

    There is already a lucrative black market for tobacco based out of the north of the south island.

    Its very easy to buy chop chop in Christchurch right up to Wanganui.

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  22. Yvette (2,819 comments) says:

    Nasska –

    I just thought the suggested system was one way of curbing new smokers and catering for those who will not give up.
    But I suspect those involved – ASH, Maori Party, Key et al – will happily spend millions of our money [which is a point that matters to me, and I guess you] in fooling about with tobacco company lawyers and other halff-arse measures like the supposed SMOKE FREE New Zealand by 2025, when the Petone tobacco company has just completed an upgrade to double the export of cigarettes to Australia [2 billion uped to 4 biliion a year] . Nice ANZAC gesture?
    You are yet to see millions of taxpayer money go up in smoke to challenge what cigarette smokers themselves set fire to.

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  23. nasska (11,491 comments) says:

    David G

    The prohibitionists seem totally unable to learn from history. Create a shortage of anything by banning it or artificially raising its price & you issue an invitation to racketeers & illegal gangs.

    Alcohol in the USA of the twenties, pornography last century & the war on drugs never worked…..why will tobacco be different?

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  24. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Yvette

    the majority of ASH’s funding comes from the tobacco companies

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  25. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    How I wish our government departments (and John Hatfield) spent as much time and energy attacking Marijuana smokers as they do cigarette smokers.

    It is a fucked up world when those who smoke dope (and the consequences are obvious when you consider the lunatic rantings of a certain person who comments here) are seen as no big deal but those who smoke cigs (a LEGAL product) are harassed and made to feel like criminals.

    Driving the cost of a pack up will not work, all that will happen is that we end up making the gangs rich. Far better to continue with the education campaign and let that take it’s natural course.

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  26. nasska (11,491 comments) says:

    Yvette

    I’ve never understood how plant material of any description can make zealots of otherwise rational people.

    There’s no real sense to the measure. It’s just a group of social engineers determined to bring everyone into line. The monetary cost would not concern them in the least…..it’s not their money & in any case it’s all for the cause.

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  27. Yvette (2,819 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay – the majority of ASH’s funding comes from the tobacco companies

    Is ASH not being truthful here ? –
    http://www.ash.org.nz/site_resources/library/2011_ASH_Annual_Report.pdf

    I am intrigued. Why would the tobacco companies fund ASH?

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  28. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Yvette

    The contract funding is via MOH but the tobacco companies are levied and supply the funding to the govt.

    I contracted to one of the tobacco companies for 7 years, it was always ironic on World Tobacco Free Day because I was being paid to keep an eye on property owned by the company incase someone from the anti tobacco league were to do something stupid and they were funded by the same people I was being paid by.

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  29. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    PEB: Is that right? (re the black market)…I was astounded to find out some time ago that it’s actually illegal to grow your own tobacco! Obviously a protection for the tobacco companies…be quite ironic if all this achieves is creating a flourishing market for TWO illegal plants…

    And at $100 a packet, it wouldnt be a surprise to have aging now retired stickup men getting into the truck hijacking business…always happened in the US but never been a problem here to the best of my knowledge…

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  30. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DG

    You are allowed to grow your own tobacco but once you cut (manufacture) it you are liable for excise n duty , immediately, thats were the illegality comes in, depriving her Majesty’s revenue collectors. Its not the tobacco companies that are being protected, its the govt

    There is huge money in it, about 4 years ago I was buying it for evidence for $60 a pound, not the money you get for weed but you’re not going to jail either.

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  31. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    comment @7.52..

    the difference is that tobacco causes cancer..

    ..whereas cannabis is a healer…

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  32. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    David Garrett

    I lived in the UK during most of the 90’s, during that time the government (at the suggestion of the nico nazis) drove up the price of a packet of 20 to the NZ $ equivalent of $20 a pack.

    Not long after this happened I was introduced to a shady chap in the small town I lived in who supplied smokers with as many as they wanted at the NZ $ equivalent price of $45 per carton.
    I got chatting with the guy, he told me that his profits were comparable with what he used to make selling dope and that if he got caught all he would face was a fine instead of prison time.
    The guy made his money smuggling in fags from Europe, the same thing will happen here if the government are stupid enough to push the price up to $100 a pack.

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  33. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    “..whereas cannabis is a healer…”

    Bullshit.

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  34. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    f.y.i..

    http://whoar.co.nz/?s=medical+marijuana

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  35. Nostalgia-NZ (5,199 comments) says:

    Think about the positive side. A lot more people will be able to be sent to prison, compliance costs will go through the roof. The tobacco Mafia will buy Lamborghinis. If the country has become more conservative by the time of the ban there could be hit squads going after known smokers and Al Capone’s dna could make a comeback in those speak-easys.

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  36. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    As I said Phool…..it’s bullshit.

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  37. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Yeah, it’s “healed” that clown alright..

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  38. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    ‘..hic…!’..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  39. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Nostalgia: I dont think Eliot Ness and his men ever went after the drinkers…only the booze merchants themselves…

    PEB: so the cops wasted time and resources having you buying illicit tobacco from “criminals” that was only illegal because duty hadnt been paid on it? Is that what you were saying?

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  40. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DG

    Presumption will get you in trouble everytime, I was’nt in the police at the time I was working for a private client, thats what I am saying.
    And yes there were professional criminals involved – where ever there is an easy dollar to be made you will find professional criminals – crime 101

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  41. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    The good news chaps is recent research shows cannabis smoke is just as if not more potent as a carcinogen than tobacco smoke…but because the dosage is so much less, (few smoke 20 joints a day) the effect is not usually noticed..But in the case of people who smoke “skunk” all day…

    So who knows what our brain damaged friend will die of?

    sure as hell won’t be overwork…

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  42. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DG

    keep reading, I’ll think you’ll find that the damage quickly catches up with the dope smoker because they hold the smoke in their lungs that much longer

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  43. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    PEB: You may be bound by confidentiality…but the only possible “private client” would be the tobacco companies? Or the Customs Dept I guess?

    Yes, I think I have read that about retaining dope smoke….all the “better” if phools smoke all day AND keep it in guess…

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  44. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and it did actually help heal me from heroin addiction..

    ..and a fondness for cocaine..

    ..i also used it to help kick a tobacco habit i had had since age 13..

    ..i think it should be offered to all those tying to kick whatever..

    ..it eases the stresses of withdrawals..

    ..and i think that a combination of pot and st johns’ wort should be the first port of call/option for those seeking help for anxiety/w.h.y..

    ..neither substance is physically addictive..which places them streets ahead of the addictive tranks that doctors’ push..

    ..it is not/would not be for all..but it should be a legal medical/healing option..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  45. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    a link/evidence of that cancer-causing claim would help…

    ..phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  46. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    How did you fund your Heroin and Coke addiction Phool? (apart from bashing and robbing Chemists?)

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  47. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    No no, there’s no link phool…u just keep smoking that “harmless” weed of yours..looooong deeeeep draughts of it…

    Bash BB? surely not! This is the guy who is always going on about my supposed $10 assault in Tonga….surely he didnt bash them as well?

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  48. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    it’s just that the person making that claim has a history of just making up ‘evidence’ to suit..

    ..’cos as my link will show…cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke are very different…with cannabis not having the carcinogens tobacco has..

    ..that is why i am surprised at that cancer-causing claim..

    ..and would like to see a link/some evidence..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  49. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..No no, there’s no link phool..”

    just orifice-plucked…eh..?

    (..I hope you washed yr hands..)

    credibility..?..zilch..!..heh..!

    oh well..!..that’s that cancer-causing claim put to bed..eh..?

    ..just some more bullshit from that person who bullshits quite a bit..

    ..and all his own work/all in his own words..eh..?

    ..heh..!

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  50. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    David Garrett

    Yep, and do you know that the prick has never apologised for it either.

    In his fucked up mind the Chemist is not important, what matters is that Phool needed drugs to fuel his self inflicted addiction.

    To this day Phool excuses his crime because of his weakness, as far as he is concerned the Chemist had it coming because Phool had an addiction and anyway, the Chemist is/was a capitalist and the only thing that really mattered was Phools addiction.

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  51. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Oh give him a like PEB….if you want to help him prolong his miserable life…Nah…second thoughts don’t…. he’s too brain damaged to notice that YOU mentioned the cannabis-cancer link, so the end can’t be far away…he’ll be walking one of the poor vegan dogs and forget you’re supposed to look RIGHT before you step off the kerb…

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  52. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and as i have been forced to do before by those who lie..

    ..i wd note i have never bashed anyone..ever..

    ..the person making that lying claim knows that he is lying..

    ..it dosen’t seem to bother him…outright lying..

    ..and snivelling from behind a fake-name too..

    ..and like his ex-mp friend..’credibility zilch’..

    ..so no..sorry mr garrett..you are still the only basher out of the two of us…..

    ..you are the one with that area/record of expertise..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  53. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    BB: so how many chemists did he stick up, do you know? Did he always bash them or only sometimes?

    OK…I see he “only” terrified them with a shotty, so that’s OK then…man…

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  54. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    David Garrett

    If Phool would only apologise, if he would only admit that he was in the wrong and admit that he terrorised and bashed an innocent man and his staff.

    If he did that I would never again raise the subject.

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  55. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    http://lungcancer.about.com/od/causesoflungcance1/f/marijuana.htm

    Theres a quick one and appears to be a bit balanced, no idea what the writers cred is though but common sense would tell you that deliberately inhailng anything other than air into your lungs makes you a dork and thats from me who smoked from age d 17 until 31

    and another one

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615095940.htm

    etc etc etc etc

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  56. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    heh..!..from the conclusion in yr evidence..

    “..marijuana most likely pales in cancer risk when compared to cigarette smoking..”

    brilliant..!

    ..thats the best you have got..?

    whereas the link i provided has 50+ items of evidence of the healing properties of cannabis..

    ..so..y’know..!

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  57. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    BB: doesnt look like he’s ever going to apologise to that poor terrified chemist mate….I found writing letters of apology pretty damn hard too, but if you are any sort of man you do it, eh?

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  58. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    DG: it’s a shame to see you continuing your descent into the gutter.

    Lift your game and earn some respect.

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  59. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    You’ve been reading too many nasty hatchet jobs by journos from your side of the fence Luc…I don’t need or want respect from people like you…and certainly not the phool.

    I have plenty of respect from the victims of people like him – that’ll do me. But thanks very much for your concern.

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  60. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    I’m with the nanny state on this one. It’s advertising. Advertising makes you want to buy things. This is all well and dandy unless the product kills most of it’s users and then you should regulate the shit out of it. Until someones brain matures they have less impulse control. Advertising may strongly influence the measures that kids take to fit in with others,
    However you can’t prohibit because prohibition leads to cartels and people are gonna do what they wanna do anyway.

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  61. Nostalgia-NZ (5,199 comments) says:

    I was a little surprised to read that the black market already exists.
    Does anybody know if smokers will be prosecuted, is there proposed legislation drafted, or a paper on it. Well will happen to tourists, will they be permitted to smoke?

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  62. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > if you are any sort of man you do it, eh?

    But do you mean it? I seriously doubt it. Not a hint of remorse.

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  63. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    One thing I can guarantee is that the queues at the checkout will get longer. Checkout operators struggle at the best of times picking the right pack for the brand loyal and are mostly directed by “the red one, 4 in”. With no colour differentiator and hidden under the desk expect some Monty Python-esque to’ing and fro’ing.

    Also, is it illegal for tobacco companies to sell branded empty cigarette cans? Or even to give them away? I’m assuming by the fact it hasn’t been done already that it is illegal.

    The black market already exists. I think Sunday did a program on illegal tobacco growers a few years ago.

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  64. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Electronic cigarettes will make this whole issue irrelevant in just a few years. Currently their legal status is a bit unclear because they haven’t been approved by health authorities, but theoretically they’re a tobacco product (nicotine can only be obtained from tobacco) so are being sold as such (i.e. to anyone over 18, but not to be marketed as a product to help quit smoking).
    You can ‘smoke’ them at the bar, since the vapour is odourless and not actually smoke. Also they’re about a quarter of the cost of cigarettes. Even cheaper if you buy the nicotine liquid and refill them yourself.
    I’m guesstimating about 50% of cigarette smokers will have switched to electronic cigarettes in two years time. I’m also guesstimating the government will move very quickly to tax them when tobacco tax revenues decline noticeably.

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  65. lils (3 comments) says:

    Seems hugely amoral to me that governments can continue to allow a product to be sold that, they admit, has a good chance of killing you if you use it in the way it is intended.
    And now govt plans to wrap tobacco in plain paper packaging? Apparently they expect large numbers of people will stop smoking because they won’t know the brand they’re purchasing.
    Ironic then that the Free Trade Agreement with the US will allow the Tobacco Industries to sue the NZ Government for billions of dollars lost profit by not being able to leverage off their brands.
    WTF PEOPLE???
    Who was the moron that came up with this piece of costly crap???

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