Editorial: Plain is positive, but I like puffing

By Dylan Thorne

42 comments


The Government says moves to introduce plain packaging of cigarettes will remove any remaining glamour associated with smoking.

As a smoker myself, I can say first hand there is nothing glamorous about being a smoker these days. Those addicted to tobacco are rapidly becoming social misfits - outcasts from normal society. In most settings we have to huddle outdoors away from the rest of the crowd for fear of offending someone.

We've grown used to disapproving looks in the street and being told on a semi-regular basis that it's a nasty, smelly habit, that we should give up and that it will most likely kill us.

I know the ramifications and I do it anyway because on some level I'm attached to smoking and the uncomfortable period of withdrawal seems a much more immediate threat than the long-term effects of smoking. I admire those who have had the fortitude to kick the habit for good.

As someone who has tried many times to quit, I support moves to make cigarettes that encourage people to give up.

The recent price hikes have certainly given me food for thought. More than once I've had to hide my shock after picking up a few things from the dairy and finding that because I added a packet of cigarettes to my shopping list the bill was a lot higher than I anticipated.

The net effect of the price hikes is that sooner or later it will just become too expensive for young people to take up the habit.

The move to plain packaging will have nowhere near the same impact but it is another step in a war of attrition against smoking and another thumb in the eye of the big tobacco companies.

New Zealand would become only the second country, after Australia, to introduce plain packs. There is no evidence the move will have a major impact on smoking and there are concerns that by limiting branding it may infringe on intellectual property rights.

As one commentator pointed out, the International Chamber of Commerce, commenting on Australia's introduction of plain packaging last year, suggested removing one industry's ability to use intellectual property rights opened the door to extending this violation to other industries and other brand owners.

As long as the Government limits this to tobacco products then I think the move to plain packaging for tobacco products is another positive step.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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