America's FDA keeps working toward forcing cigarette makers to encase their product in packaging with some incredibly nasty images in order to help consumers understand what could happen to them if they continue smoking. Australian health officials don’t have to wait anymore.
Thanks to a world-first law that went into effect on Dec. 1st, nicotine lovers (and haters) in the land Down Under are now faced with images a gangrene-mangled limb and a skeletal cancer victim when they buy their cigarettes. The images, which caused an uproar when revealed last year, take up most of the pack’s packaging with the cigarette’s brand name (no logo) printed on the bottom quarter of the packaging, in plain text on an olive-toned blah background.
“They’re so horrifingly ugly that they are magnificent,” Fiona Sharkie, executive director of anti-smoking campaigner Quit Victoria, told Bloomberg. How horrifyingly ugly? Check out the grotesque warning images below.
Thanks to the graphic new packaging and related marketing such as a new TV campaign, "Smoking rates in Australia could drop from 15 to 10 per cent within six years due to plain packaging," federal health minister Tanya Plibersek was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Of course, that’s not exactly what Big Tobacco wants to hear. Reuters reports that retailers are up in arms over the unbranded packaging, while the "industry has shifted its focus to potential copycat legislation elsewhere." But the Australian government is trying to save itself some cash over the long haul with its efforts to cut down smoking there. According to Bloomberg, the country shells out $33 billion annually on health costs from smoking.
Aussie smokers are doing what they can to avoid the nastiest images. Agence France Presse reports that one convenience-store worker found that on the first day the packs were mandatory, most consumers were asking for packs that “pictured a hand stubbing out a cigarette, while some smokers were buying cigarette cases so they did not have to look at the images.”
Others, though, didn’t pay much attention to the images at all, nor to bright yellow warnings featuring the national Quitnow.gov.au smoking cessation hotline. "I'm a stressed out university student," 21-year-old Louisa Brooks Blomberg told Rueters after purchasing a pack with the image of a sick baby with an oxygen tube running up its nose. "I definitely am going to quit one day... I don't actually want to quit now.”
Below, an array of the plain pack shock images:
Some of the yellow warning labels:
Equal time for cigars: