As of May 2017, all cigarette packaging will adopt a new image, intending to change attitudes towards smoking nationwide… or will it?
As you may have noticed when shopping in your local or stumbling through the smoking area in your favourite nightclub, recent tobacco-related products have adopted a new exterior. In March 2015, MPs voted in favour of standardised tobacco packaging, with the hope of decreasing its appeal nationwide.
However, the question still remains, how effective will this new look be?
Initial support for the implementation of this new design came from the hope of deterring younger individuals from adopting the habit. Due to the current tobacco advertising ban, brands could only promote their product through the design of their packaging. Their unique designs were therefore adopted with the aim of attracting more individuals, a factor this standardisation aims to quench.
However, critique for this new legislation was developed on the basis that those who are already addicted will not be deterred due to plainer packaging. As predicted, much of the initial backlash came from the tobacco industry, with claims stating tobacco sales would not fall as a result of this change. In fact, some even suggested that plainer packaging lead to a greater risk of falsification and smuggling.
Data collected in Australia, who initiated this process in 2012, may answer some of these concerns. Hugh Webb and his colleagues found that as a result of this change, committed smokers experienced a decrease in brand identification and loyalty.
In fact, Webb proceeded to demonstrate that as a result of this loss of connection, smoking behaviours began to decrease in the older population, who many thought would be unaffected by this change.
Despite this overwhelming data, many people across the UK remain sceptical.
Admittedly, the exact connection between plainer packaging and an increase in public health remains specifically unknown. However, data here provided demonstrates hopeful statistics that, if followed through, may result in an improved public health. With the current strains on the NHS, this is hard to be considered a negative.