Australian Researchers Study How Cigarette Packaging Fools You

How Cigarette Packaging Fools You

A new study shows we're still suckers for canny packaging of cigarette brands, especially those claiming to be slightly less bad for us than the usual variety. A team of Australian researchers investigated the effects of plain packaging laws, publishing their findings on Tuesday in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. Plain packaging and warnings on cigarettes seem like a useless precaution. Who doesn't know that smoking is bad for people?

They found that Aboriginal and Torres Island people certainly did know that smoking was bad. What plain packaging did was reduce was the perception that certain kinds of cigarettes were "less bad" for people. Packages depicting healthy icons with words like "slim" and "light" gave the impression that certain kinds of cigarettes were healthier. Some packages even used the same word as the NICO card: mild.

There's actually a long history of marketing efforts to lessen people's anxiety over the adverse health effects of consumer products -- and no more so than with cigarettes. In the 1960s, when it really started hitting home that smoking kills, companies adopted a popular marketing strategy that involved uranium. Radium skin cream and radioactive suppositories are well-known examples of historically bogus uses of radiation as a health tonic, but there are a number of bit players we don't always hear about. One of them was the NICO Clean Tobacco Card.

This card first appeared in Japan, and soon became a popular export, as Americans clamoured for a way to keep on smoking without worrying about the health consequences. The card was small and blue and contained a shake or two of uranium. Smokers were to slip it into their packs of cigarettes, where the radiation from the uranium would somehow eliminate the poisons in the cigarettes.

The packaging for the card claimed it was effective in "lowering tar and nicotine 17%", that it allowed for "milder smoking with no sacrifice in taste", and that it caused a 50 per cent reduction in the "poisonous substance contained in tobacco smoke". Needless to say, it did none of those things.

While the card is a thing of the past, it's still with us today in spirit. In health food stores and new agey places, it's possible to purchase a metal medallion to attach to one's cell phone to eliminate the harmful electromagnetic radiation given off by the phone.

Everyone has been suckered in by healthy packaging at some point, or tried to pick the least harmful of a slate of bad options. Tailoring marketing materials to promote the perception of a "least bad option" has never stopped being lucrative.


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    Im a smoker, been smoking for about 10 years and no plan to quit any time soon.
    I started when it was just $8/pack and everything was described by colors, winnie red, dunhill blue, bnh reds, horizon... lol na.... ahhaaha
    Plain packaging has not impacted me at all, tax had just encouraged me to not buy from retail outlets and hell... I love being 'that guy' at a restaurant, shops, walking down the street.

    I eat well, I live well, I just enjoy smoking
    I will quit one day, but when IM ready

      While harming and annoying everyone else. Grats. Your an amazingly powerful individual person

        ahahahah, you have no idea.
        And yes I am a 'powerful individual person'

      Was a smoker over 25 years.
      Packet of winnies was $3.30
      Thought i enjoyed it, since giving up in 2011 i now know i was just kidding myself, i enjoy not having coughing fits more.

      Why are you so proud of a behaviour that is so antisocial? You do understand that the companies that sell those things have purposefully made them one of the most addictive and dangerous products in the world. They are losing customers two ways, by peer pressure from friends and associates who have seen the light and given up, or by killing them! Don't get me started on the tactics they are using in third world countries, where they are actively attracting and getting kiddies addicted!

        yes I care about my behavior, dont see how smoking is anti social.
        yes I am aware of the fact that tobacco companies are 'evil' (its a company thats trying to make a profit)
        yes i am aware of their tactics but at the end of the day im an adult who makes decisions and dont appreciate being alienated because I have a different life style

          I'm not sure you fully understood the scale of the problem. You are hooked because they made you that way and yes I do mean hooked, if you weren't, you could just stop right now. What they are doing with kids in third world countries, makes them outright criminals too.

          Different lifestyle = ok
          Lifestyle that negatively impacts those immediately around you = not ok

          A company isn't evil for wanting to make money, a company is evil for how it goes against morals, ethics, and cultural acceptance. Tobacco companies are evil because there is solid, unrefutable evidence that smoking will lead to poisoning you body, the air, and those around you.

          "dont [sic] see how smoking is antisocial"

          "I love being 'that guy' at a restaurant, shops, walking down the street."

      I'm a vandal, been spray painting obscenities in public places now for about 10 years and have no plan to quit any time soon.
      I started when it was just $3.50/can and everything was described by colours, Wattle green, Dulux red... lol na.... ahhaaha
      Age checks has not impacted me at all, just encouraged me to shoplift... I love being 'that guy' at a restaurant loos, bus shelters, people's fences.

      I eat well, I live well, I just enjoy grafitti
      I will quit one day, but when IM ready

        your gonna stoop that low?
        people like you are the reason I act the way i do. they throw a tantrum every time they dont like something they see

          So basically you are an arsehole?

            All I read here are a-holes targeting and shoving their opinions in the face of a guy who simply said he likes smoking and will quit when he is ready.

            If he wants to smoke, let him smoke - not everyone smokes near other people. And if they do in areas where smoking is allowed...the non smokers are free to move.

              You can ignore an opinion.

              You cant ignore someone breathing pure cancer in your vicinity putting your health in danger due to second hand smoke.

              If he wants to smoke, He can do it in his own home away from people who shouldn't have to be exposed to his dangerous habit.

                Cigarette smoke is not "pure cancer" and statements like that lose you any credibility.
                Walking down the street in most major cities is just as bad for you as standing a metre from a smoker (ok, can't find the link to source, but google it if you care).
                In fact, there's many many things going on all over the place that 'can' (not 'will') 'possibly' (not definitely) cause or contribute to cancer. Smoking isn't actually that high on the list, and when I smoke (been vaping for years now, which is a whole other story with even more ignorance out there) I don't do it near or upwind of others it might offend, and if I ever accidentally did, and was asked to move, I did, no problems.
                As soon as some random internet troll posts that 'smokers are bad for me' I mentally give them a red card. The truth is that very few smokers have no regard for others. Most smokers I know a) know it's unhealthy, b) like or at least don't dislike the people around them, and c) do their best to avoid inconveniencing others. Hell, we go outside in the cold/heat/rain/snow - often putting ourselves at other (potentially more serious) risks, just cause we don't want to inconvenience others. But despite all this, there's still people that see someone smoking (probably even on TV) and feel like they're personally getting sicker because of it. Or they can catch a lingering scent of burnt tobacco, and assume smelling it is the same as smoking it to their health, etc. Bunches of idiots and SJWs.

                If you don't want to smoke, don't.
                If you are in a public place where someone else has a right to smoke, and you don't like it, move - there's always (in most countries) plenty of smoking banned public areas you can enjoy.
                If someone is smoking in public where they have a right to, and it inconveniences you, it's ok to request a compromise, most smokers are willing, but don't make demands.
                If someone is smoking in a place where it is not publicly permissible, then make sure they know this (there's both good and bad ways to do this obviously) and ask them to move. Again, unless you're a four letter word type in your attitude, you'll have no problems.

                Not real hard people.

                (All the above applies pretty much equally to alcohol, for bonus points)

        I've been a drinker for 30 years, I vomit in peoples front lawns, leer at girls, beat my children.. I've only cleaned up a few letterboxes driving home inebriated but I'm waiting for the big one.

        Lucky for me there is a group of the population who is acceptably demonized - the smokers - who subsidize not just my stomach pumping, cancer treatment and emergency medicine for lacerations but also the health of every other Australian above and beyond their own costs to the tune of 20 billion dollars (2012). According to the ATO report of the cost of licit and illicit drugs ($File/mono64.pdf) me and my fellow drinkers cost each state millions but - laugh - the smokers pay for this!

        The huge rate of upper respiratory tract cancers, lung cancer, throat, neck, mouth, tongue, liver, spleen and stomach cancer from drinking.. not my problem.. and clearly not a social problem coz y'know.. everyone drinks right? Never mind they are demonstrably caused by alcohol - never mind not a single study in 50 years has been able to induce cancer from smoking and thousands of studies have induced cancers with alcohol - What are they gonna do.. tax us appropriately?? hahahano.

        Let us mock the smokers. Let's make sure they cannot enjoy their cigs by being able to select by taste or strength. It'd be like putting 'wine' on all labels and having labels picturing vomit covered people, road decapitations, raped women and beaten children - and let's keep the tax at $14 a packet or better, $34 as is being proposed. he he.. silly smokers. Looking forward to the next ambo ride paid for by smokers after a good night out with the lads.

        Yay Austraya.

          What a crock of shit.

          The Collins and Lapsley paper you linked doesn't support your statement at all.
          Chapter 7 would be a good place to start, where it is stated in Table 35 that over the 2004/05 period alcohol had a total social cost of $15b whereas the cost for tobacco was $31b.
          With regard to tax revenue, summarised in Tables 4 and 5, the totals for 2004/05, comprising state and federal tax, were $5b for alcohol and $6b for tobacco.

          Tax revenue for tobacco is nowhere near sufficient to cover the social cost of tobacco, let alone covering the social cost of alcohol.

            I created an account just to say well bloody said, Scrumptatoes!

            Table 44.. Let me quote:
            "Tobacco tax revenue in 2004/05 exceeded tobacco-attributable costs borne by the public
            sector by over $3.5 billion
            . Of this surplus $2.7 billion accrued to the Commonwealth and
            around $800 million to state governments."

            that was 2004/2005. Asking the same question of the Health Minister under Gillard, I was informed the amount had risen to between 20 and 22.5 billion.

            I'm sorry, but you've not read these tables in the level of detail required to pick up on the rather peculiar ways that $31 billion has been calculated.

            That report shows the net health costs as a result of smoking is $318m on page 54. That is a net cost to the Government and hence Australian Taxpayers.

            The vast bulk of the $31 billion is an oddly calculated lost productivity cost and value of life lost, which is not a cost that the Government bears.

            So, that leaves smokers making a much larger net positive contribution to Government coffers.

            EDIT: Well summarised Karlos51. I actually don't think the people that wrote this paper intended to be misleading, but the anti-smoking lobby have really twisted it's message towards their own ends.

            Last edited 04/01/16 4:39 pm

          You just got schooled... Bad.
 Take a bow

            Oops, forgot the alcohol bit -
            "Alcohol tax revenue in 2004/05 exceeded alcohol-attributable costs borne by the public sector by $1.4 billion. The Commonwealth Government accrued an alcohol-attributable surplus of 1.8 billion while the states were in deficit to the amount of $387 million"

            Always best to read the whole article, hmmm?

              I'm an Internet commenter.. I don't have to make sense, follow logic or be sensible

        No you're hooked and the evil corporations made you that way, luring you with cut-price spray cans, constantly increasing their profit margins while they know you can't stop.

        If you could stop, you would, you can't, you don't love it, you are an addict!


      It's amazing that people can be discriminated against for doing something that is legal. What a world we live in!

        Well it is legal to rape your wife in India but the rest of the free world and anyone with common sense can see what was once normal and accepted 10, 20, or 30+ years ago looks pretty silly. Times change and with it so does acceptable behaviour, people are much more aware and health conscious nowadays and smoking has no place in that future. Shaming is an unfortunate side effect but for the common person that is about as far as someone's personal reach goes.

          The only reason it isn't banned in Australia is because they know it would cause an illegal underground trade where the standards would not be as strict. So instead they are doing this to reduce the amount of people it effects, especially young people thinking about taking it up.

      Plain packaging was never supposed to impact you at all. It's primarily to discourage new smokers, not committed lifers.

      I can guarantee that once you do quit (if it doesn't kill you first) for a few months you'll look back and think "shit I actually did that for X years?" You'll start to feel WAY better and have more money. Honestly I was like you 2 years ago until I quit and I really can't believe that I ever smoked its just such a dumb retarded thing to do, its pure insanity.

    Of course all this stems from the findings of epidemiologist Sir Richard Doll, who at a time when the world was searching for the cause of lung cancer, proved it to be smoking. The study was criticized immediately by statisticians for gaping holes and shoddy methods.. but that was overlooked as it gave people the answer they wanted to hear.

    This is the same Richard Doll who stated in court that Agent Orange, 24-D, 245-T and Dioxin were perfectly safe.. as was asbestos. Got that? Journalists didn't.. just as they ignored the fact that after Doll died it was revealed he was paid as much as SEVENTY times the annual wage as a retainer by Monsanto- the makers of 24-D and 245-T - a retainer he received for decades - and never declared at all, not even once, in all his 'research'. Of course everyone tipped their hat and agreed he was above reproach - after all, this was the man who PROVED smoking caused cancer.

    Did I mention he also was funded by James Hardie the Asbestos maker? No.. neither did Doll. But hey. Of course journos don't research enough to find this out, they're busy reading from their boilerplates provided by government propaganda departments. Heaven forbid they look at the billions donated (invested) by the Robert Johnson Foundation, a activist subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson who make tens of billions from quit aids.. and stand to make even more when they finally achieve the world ban on smoking and can then market their nicotine derivatives as antidepressants, prenatal aids and the other myriad uses they know about.

    but never mind all that. Just demonize smokers - after all, society always needs a scapegoat.

      Whatever the foundation, the history of scientific literature on the subject strongly links smoking to poor health outcomes.
      Bounce around on tangents as much as you want, it doesn't really achieve anything.

        correlation does not imply causation.. any epidemiological correlation should be able to be backed by demonstrable research. If forcing beagles to smoke for years and implanting used buts in rat lungs didn't show any correlation, and annoyingly discovering bacteria and viral counts in the mouths and lungs of smokers was lower than in the general population.. hey - go with correlation based proof!

      Yeah, smoking is super healthy inhaling smoke and chemicals. They should install smoke installations into the baby wards at hospitals. Jog on mate, you have to purposely blind to think that tobacco/cigarettes are anything but poison. No lets just focus on ONE study even though the results and been replicated, re-proven, and are visible in countless literature in any medicine or science journal.

        a smoked cigarette produces 0.4g of inhaled vapor and smoke. Every identifiable chemical present in cigarette smoke is also found in vehicle exhaust.. except the nicotine. You probably get your nicotine from tomatoes and egg plants but that's OK.

        Now how many liters of petroleum does your car consume a day? divide the mass of that by 0.4 grams and work out the equivalent number of cartons per week you push out your tailpipe - CO2, CO, NH3, CN, HCN, NOs, cadmium, long chain hydrocarbons (or 'tar' if you like) and other gasses.

        Or let me give you another example - Next door burned 50kg of garden waste a few weeks back - that works out the same as 625 cartons of fags.. or 45 thousand dollars it tax had it been tobacco.

        funny everyone ignores the known carcinogenic qualities of ethanol.

          Petrol is wrong as well you fool, why do you think consumers want renewable clean green energy. Our predecessors made some dumb decisions because they didn't know better, now we do and society as a whole mostly is trying to move away from all that toxic crap.

          Your argument is that because there are worst things around we should just ignore this terrible thing because what's the point is that same stupid argument when people say you shouldn't be upset because someone in X has it worst than you. It sucks for both people and it sucks that fossil fuels and cigarettes are both used so commonly. You got some messed up logic mate.

            using the comparisons I gave, there is clearly significant risk (the air you breathe polluted by vehicle exhaust) and the insignificant risk (cigarettes, unless you were a bureaucrat charged with pedaling propaganda against smokers) .. No one raises the issue that oranges contain known carcinogens or bananas are radioactive because the risks are insignificant . I concur, tobacco smoke on the whole smells bad - which is a shame as years ago when Co's were allowed to flavor their products (now seen as an evil practice by bad Co's trying to lure new customers) some of them smelled pretty darned nice! I remember even non smokers following smokers and asking them 'what brand is that?' It's almost like comparing a fine wine to a mix of industrial alcohol and water and calling that wine. Pollutants from vehicle exhaust are also foul but most people have grown up with and are used to it, unlike the country folk who's eyes water as they cough and ask how we can breathe this crap. Cigarette smoke stands out, that's all - and yes, inconsiderate people (some are even smokers) will always offend because they're inconsiderate. I guess that's why almost all the scientists , great minds, world leaders and presidents of the day agreed with the scientific consensus on eugenics and recognized that we needed to rid the world of 'human garbage' like gays and dark skinned people and all those other people who offend us - or put a burden on the health system like diabetics .. -

              WTF was that wall of text that was completely and utterly pointless and why are you talking about Eugenics? I have to assume you're being satirical because you're exhibiting a p[erfect example of

              You very clearly are troubled judging by your strong defence of smoking and at the very least positively implying that gay and dark people are a blight on humanity. If you're not already I literally recommend you speak to a professional about your personal thoughts before they hurt someone. Don't do anything rash.

                why raise eugenics? because it's easy once you've demonized a group of people to then move further down the path toward that end.

                I note your concern re gay and dark skinned people.. My attitude is supportive of all people, hence my use of the term 'human garbage' in inverted commas, by means of a quote . You misinterpret my intent too, the blight was not my interpretation but rather the interpretation of as I stated, the great minds, liberal thinkers, world leaders and scientists of the day - see, occasionally these Great Thinkers get things wrong.

                As to the 'wall of text' I think any sane person can comprehend that 30,000 grams of petroleum burned per car per week producing the same combustion products as a 'heavy' smokers carton a week (80g of combustion products) might suggest the emphasis is biased.

    Reading the above comments makes me hate humanity...

    what a failure of Australian society

    the commenters hating on smokers here have proven themselves to be obnoxious and fascist.

    It is not YOUR choice to make. Do not control OTHERS lives.

    If you are unaccepting of a person choice, so be it. You are entitled to your opinion. Just don't go around trying to making it your world view legislation (plain package=nanny state) or being obnoxious by thinking your position is some how morally superior.

    Indeed I would posit having children is in fact more "toxic" than a cigarette but then thats the PARENTS choice not mine.

    disclosure - I do not smoke.

      It is my choice not to smoke, so walking down the street with a fascist arse who's deciding that I need to inhale their smoke is also obnoxious. I dont care if people want to smoke (hell I did for 15 odd years), but I always tried to be respectful of other peoples choices (smoked in smoking area's of pubs, dont honestly remember walking down the street smoking). Even at home I never smoked inside (as my parents were non smokers)

    Reading the above comments or reminds me how much society has changed in a very short time. Saying smoking is "anti-social" not so long ago was very much a "social" thing, even non smokers would spark up and have a drink.

    The negativity one commenter received for his way of life is actually hilarious, in ways i agree with them that their life style choice is their own.

    Just remember how much things have changed

    Someone smoking doesn't look "cool" or "self-righteous", they just look like an adult baby with a dummy (pacifier) in their mouth. They stink like they've filled their nappy. To those who smoke at what point will you quit? Then you have a small niggling cough? A persistent cough? Cancer? Will you put you hand up and say "yes I was stupid" and go die on your own or will you be a burden on the health care system and so nurses can continue to look after you like an infant?

    Ahahahahah, so being a smoker in Australia completely negates every thing you have ever done and instantly makes you the worse than the devil? so an action I do that is perfectly legal incites hateful remarks against myself as a person? (10 pts for the person who guesses the noun for this)

    Smoking in AUSTRALIA is LEGAL (try and disregard global affairs for this) and so far every jumps strait to the conclusion that im a horrible human and directs confusing nonsense attacks directly at me.

    THAT was the point I was trying to make. Social medias hyper sensitivity, reaction and Dramatization over virtually nothing.
    If thats what it means to be human / Australian, then fuck it. I dont want to be part of your circus.

    face it we live in a stupid country with dumb laws aimed at producing money and giving no freedom to ppl..everywhere else smokes are cheap..dont have 100 speed cameras..only one pay provider how sad..and yet we get slugged for everything ppl dont rebel because their dumb and either plain idiots or simply love paying high taxes for pollies to spend on first class seats..and you call aus a great country pfft id rather live in china oh wait australia is made in china hahaha

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