brands under fire

Australia Now Selling Shocking Cigarette Unpackaging in World First Roll-Out

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 3, 2012 01:27 PM

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 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:


Tony Mammoliti Australia says:

A stroke of genius. Thank you Nicola Roxon!

December 4, 2012 04:30 AM #

Hilton Barbour Canada says:

Canada has employed a similar "graphic" approach for several years.

As this article suggests, this has helped reduce smoking amongst the coveted teen conjunction with other factors.

Here's hoping Australia's efforts are as successful

December 4, 2012 06:08 AM #

Aoli United States says:

Truly horrific and upsetting.

December 4, 2012 02:16 PM #

Tony Mammoliti Australia says:

Ugly images have been used in Australia for some time too. I think the 'world first' is for the banning of any type of branding / logo. It is now law.

December 8, 2012 03:47 AM #

Karin Lehmann Austria says:

To ban branding will reduce consumer orientation. Smoking is an unhealthy habit as is consuming alcohol as is consuming food containing sugar as is criving a car - where do you draw the line betwenn branding and non-branding?

December 8, 2012 07:01 AM #

paul Australia says:

About time someone (well, a health minister in a leftist government actually) took Big Tobacco to task where it hurts. The facts about smoking have been known for more than 5 decades now, and yet Big Tobacco continues to fight actions to prevent people killing themselves. Seat belts took 10 years to become the norm, and the parameters are the same.
Let's see the plain packaging wave roll around the globe now. Marlboro Man is looking real sick!

December 8, 2012 04:18 PM #

Comments are closed

elsewhere on brandchannel

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
brandcameo2014 Product Placement Awards
Apple loses its crown to a new #1
Coca-ColaIt's the Journey That Matters:
Coca-Cola Opens Up With Story-Based Web Refresh
debateJoin the Debate
Is product placement a waste of money?
Arthur Chinski and Joshua Mizrahi
Model Behavior? Brands Beware
U.S. Legal Changes Impact Use of Brand Ambassadors
paperCorporate Citizenship in Canada
Fresh thinking from Interbrand
Sheryl Connelly
Sheryl Connelly

Meet Ford's Resident Futurist
Highlighting the Present—and Future—of Branding in Latin America and Iberia