Plain Packaging

Last week submissions on the Ministry of Health’s proposal to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in New Zealand closed.

Here are some exerts from my submission.

There is no specific evidence that plain packaging will work. No, they are right. There isn’t. So let’s make some evidence. Data from the New Zealand and Australian experience can be compared to the USA, Canada, and the UK and we can tell if plain packaging has an effect. If not, then the tobacco industry loses nothing.

There is actually a whole lot of evidence to show that tobacco branding and packaging does have an impact on getting people attracted to specific brands and then staying smoking because of brand identity, enticing children to start smoking. There is just none on plain packing in particular because not many jurisdictions have gone down this route yet. So let’s make some evidence.

Plain packaging is a small imposition on an industry that profits from lying about the addiction and death it causes.

There is nothing about the packaging of tobacco that makes it unique other than a brand association.

Essentially all the tobacco is the same poison. Branding serves no purpose other than to create brand identity and to lure people into smoking. The branding does not change the flavour or quality of the tobacco.

The submission paper asked “What would be the additional costs of manufacturing tobacco packaging, including redesigning packs and retooling printing processes, if plain packaging of tobacco products were introduced?” To which I replied:

Probably a lot less than what they currently spend, and since the format will be government mandated probably very little.

I would be more than happy to provide my design skills to the Tobacco industry if they say it will cost them a lot of money to switch to plain packaging. I will design the packets at 25 percent the price of the lowest design company, if they are so worried about the cost.

Hopefully the Ministry of Health will recommend that we press on with plain packaging legislation and we’ll have another chance to submit in favour during the select committee process.


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