Discuss: Should logos be banned on cigarette packs?
Australia's highest court has banned the use of brand logos on cigarette packs. Instead, cigarette manufacturers will have to adorn the outside of packs of smokes with pictures of the very worst effects of tobacco: diseased gums, bodies wasted by lung cancer, wan children suffering from the effects of second-hand smoke.
Not something you'd want to look at every time you pulled out your pack to light up another cancer stick.
Which is the idea behind the move: Discourage smokers from lighting the next one and imposing one more visual obstacle for those who want to start.
Cigarette manufacturers argued unsuccessfully that the ban, set to begin in December, would destroy the commercial value of their brands, make it easier for counterfeiters and violate international trade agreements.
It's one more tactic in the fight to stop smoking, which has included advertising bans and high tobacco taxes to make the cost prohibitive (about $17 for a pack of 25 in Australia). Seventeen percent of Australians still smoke despite these efforts.
In practical terms it could make it tough for store clerks to quickly identify the brand customers ask for unless requests were more specific: "The one with the emphysema sufferer."
But it could spawn a new product line of reusable cigarette cases that would cover the repulsive with more positive images: A resurrection of the Marlboro man, for instance, or pretty pictures of healthy lung tissue. (Journalists are lousy business people, so feel free to take that idea and run with it.)
What do you think? Should similar steps be taken in the United States where about 20 percent of the population still lights up?
Photo: The Australian health department's ideal cigarette pack. AP Photo.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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