Generic cigarette packaging

Above: How packets will look under 2012 regulations (photo: Reuters).

The tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched legal action against the Australian Government, arguing the move illegally diminishes the value of their trademarks.

“We would anticipate that the compensation would amount to billions.”
— Anne Edwards, Philip Morris spokesperson

Imperial Tobacco, a global company that produces brands like Davidoff and Gauloises, has created a large advertising campaign against the plain packaging law that features a stern, matronly figure who asks: “Do you really like living in a nanny state?”

I’m with the Government on this one.

Update #1:
At first, reading the comment thread made me doubt siding with the Government, but actually, the more I read, the more I think this is a step in the right direction.

Update #2:
Australian court OKs cigarette logo ban

Elsewhere: BBC, NY Times, The Independent, The Telegraph

Via David Lawlor.


David, how can you be “with the Government on this one”? That is absolute impeachment of freedom and step in the wrong direction for the design industry. I don’t smoke, and don’t like cigarette companies, but they have rights too. I’d be pissed if someone told me that I could no longer use the logo and branding that I’ve spent billions developing!

I’m thoroughly disappointed to hear that from a guy that many designers, including myself, look up to. Your website’s called LogoDesignLove, did you forget the love?

I understand the fuzzy-wuzzy-feel-good reaction to this story, but really, it’s a chilling extension of government power. Really, it is.

I am a non-smoker and no fan of tobacco companies. I am also all for preventing children from smoking. But I have to admit, it seems that tobacco companies have to play by other rules than the rest of the world. If these are the rules they have to play by, then why don’t weapon manufacturers and liquor producers also have to play by the same set of rules? Why doesn’t McDonalds have to have a big warning label on their food and why not force them to remove their branding from Happy Meals? What about candy, products with high amounts of saturated fat, energy drinks, etc…? All of these are things are damaging to people’s health and have negligible or no health benefit to speak of, but cigarette companies are singled out and have to brand with obtrusive warnings and now may lose all of their ability to brand their products. I would find the world to be a much better place without cigarettes, but if we are talking about fairness and what is legal then the same rules should be applied to other questionable products as well or not at all.

Don’t like this. It’s a diminution of culture and punishing designers for making their work being too successfully enticing.

It’s up to people to have the good sense and decision on what they do with their bodies.

We can say it should be “all or nothing” where companies selling products that kill are concerned, but “all” would never happen without a starting point.

“A step in the wrong direction for the design industry?”

Designers need to take responsibility for the companies they brand, and not just do it because they’re getting paid.

It’s not about design making it ‘successfully enticing’, it’s the seriously addictive components in a cigarette which make people smoke it. This exclusive focus on freedom is not always positive, some Government intervention is necessary, just look at what happened to the US economy versus the Australian economy recently. Some government intervention is not a bad thing. This isn’t tantamount to a nanny state. A nanny state wouldn’t let you smoke in the first place, anywhere, at all.

I think cigarettes are disgusting but I’m with Big Tobacco on this one. The government is overstepping its boundaries. Cigarettes and other tobacco products are off limits to children as they should be. It’s also acceptable for a government to ban or restrict smoking in certain public areas because it protects the rights of people who would rather not inhale second hand smoke. However, beyond those limits adults should have the right to decide if they would like to risk their lives by filling their lungs with chemical filled hot smoke. And as long as some of them are willing to continue buying cigarettes I believe Big Tobacco has a right to sell them.

Granted my perspective is based on being from New York City and I have no familiarity with Australia’s laws. America tried this kind of stuff with alcohol which arguably has an equally negative effect on society and that brought about a world of other problems. By all means protect the innocents and bystanders (children and non-smokers) but this isn’t the way to do it.

It starts with cigarettes and then it will be alcohol > fast food > the fashion and beauty industries and in the end nobody will be able to advertise, brand, or actively sell anything.

Whether you agree with people smoking or not, this sets a horrendous precedent. Not only is it a blatant overstepping of the government’s responsibilities, it diminishes the brand value, not only of tobacco companies, but of all companies who produce a product that anyone may find offensive. As a blog that focuses on branding, identity, and design, you should absolutely not be “with the Government on this one” even if you do hate smoking.

I happen to smoke, which is my choice given the vast amount of evidence on the subject. That said, I know that smoking negatively affects health and is highly addictive; however, if this plan is implemented, I would expect the government to require pictures of enlarged, fatty livers on every Happy Meal from McDonald’s as well as rotting teeth on every soda can. The point is, how stupid do the powers that be really think the populous is? This measure seems completely ridiculous and unnecessary.

P.S. Don’t forget to include large signs clearly showing the danger of what can happen when one goes outside.

I just wonder if this goes unchallenged, how long is it until McDonald’s in Australia has to be sold in plain white bags and boxes?

This seems like they’re simply targeting designers doing their jobs. As for morality, I would have no reservations about designing packaging for tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, crack, smut–you name it. A product is a product, and I honestly don’t care about the health of people who don’t care themselves.

Call me a bastard but designers don’t put cigarettes in between people’s lips, or alcohol into their guts, people do. And while design might undermine the horror of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, drunk driving, etc., I submit that people who don’t have sense enough to realize the dangers of excess, to fail to observe and recognize their own unconscious saboteur, they deserve what they get.

I agree with you 100% David – in fact I would be in favour of a total ban on cigarette manufacture in general too. Yes, sure some people like to smoke, and it’s not those people I care about, it’s the kids who are forced to live with them, drive in cars with them and that suffer as a result of someone elses stupidity and selfishness.

@ The VMCA,

Not all people who smoke behave in the way you describe. I often ask the person with whom I share company whether or not they mind if I have a smoke. Also, I do not explicitly approach children and blow smoke in their faces, nor do I smoke around children in general. In your expressed opinion, why not go one step further and ban every substance that can be harmful to one’s health. Good luck manufacturing anything. While your at it, you may as well also take away lead paint from Fine Artists to make sure they don’t accidentally digest any of it. The tax hikes on cigarettes has already proven effective in reducing the amount of cigarettes sold, but if your proposed ban on cigarette manufacture were to be implemented, you would find any government scrambling to make up their losses in tax revenue.

Lastly, did we not learn anything from prohibition.

Many compare smoking to eating at McD, but they forget a simple fact: it won’t affect you if the person next to you would wolf down three Big Macs, but you can’t say the same if the person next to you would chain-smoke three cigarettes.

Prohibition is never a good idea, as it has been proven too many times already, but governments should protect weak social elements by not allowing companies to sell ‘false dreams’. One small example (and step) is making smoking less ‘cool’ and branded. ‘Evil’ advertising and branding are doing enough damage by creating false expectations (especially when it comes to fashion) — no wonder we have alienated youngsters like the ones in the recent London lootings.

You should read this brilliant piece, recently published in The Guardian, “Advertising is a poison that demeans even love – and we’re hooked on it”:

Unlike guns, McDonalds, alcohol, etc., there is absolutely nothing positive about cigarettes. They slowly, and often painfully, kill people.

Tell a kid that has had the joy of watching a parent slowly die of lung cancer that this is a stupid idea and they’ll have every right to break your jaw.

I am from Uruguay. We did the same in our small country almost 7 years ago. Phillip Morris is now demanding THE Country for this. They refuse to admit that they are selling poison to people. Congrats Australia!

The government has a responsibility to the health of its population. Smoking places a massive, unnecessary burden on health system. Cigarettes are poisonous, highly addictive, and causes tens of thousands of deaths in Australia each year ( The government has a social obligation to do whatever they reasonably can to reduce the number of smokers, and de-glamorising the cigarette brands is one approach.

It’s amusing to read the comments that say this is punishing the designers. There’s plenty of products that need graphic design work; go design something else.

As a gamer, I thought the Australian government was ridiculous because of their aggressive policies towards videogames such as L4D and L4D2. As a graphic designer I now think they’ve jumped off the deep end. Regardless of whether you like or don’t like a behavior, the government should have no right to enforce morality, especially through visual culture. As soon as a government has the authority to govern morality (beyond punitive action for previously codified bad behavior), then its people are subject to whatever morality the government chooses to enforce, which does not have to stay solely with cigarettes.

Let`s all together imagine a situation. If someone will come to you to solicit a new packaging design for a product called Cancer and it comes in all sorts of varieties from Lung to Throat flavor, would you consider designing it? You are arguing over the fact that designers are getting their work thrown away by this decision. In my opinion, their work is crap. I mean, designing in the 60`s when cigarettes where not considered to be dangerous was ethical, but now their branding is just wrong. In my opinion and others, I guess, the packaging should contour the actual characteristics of the product otherwise it`s jut non-ethical and plain evil. If I were to be asked to do a package design for cigarettes, I`d refuse, no matter if my work would be present all over the world and I`d get a lot of money to do that.

I think removing all branding is going to do the opposite of what the government want to achieve. People are generally brand loyal and now they are going to have to look harder to find their brand with the packaging all the same and no easy way to identify it. I’m not a smoker so I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure there are variations in the brands of strength and taste.

We already know about supermarkets copying big brand colours and layout to trick customers into buying their own brand products.

So the message they are trying to get across is going to be ignored as people try to find their preferred brand. There could be a compromise and the companies could keep their logos in that smal space at the bottom.

Nick, if that were to be true, why not allow cocaine and weapons in the convenient stores. I mean, that oppresses our liberty to make moral judgement for our selves too, doesn`t it?

As an ex-smoker (10 years), I think this is going too far.

Ban cigarette advertising, everywhere.

Only sell cigarettes in bars or establishments that require under-18’s (or whatever the age limit is in your country) to provide ID to gain entrance, and do not display any livery to consumers outside of those places of business.

Hike the prices, again. Triple them. Quadruple them.

Ban smoking in public.

Include a leaflet in every pack/carton carrying full medical details, with pictures, of the health risks, like a prescription drug, only more explicit.

There are many ways to reduce the appeal of smoking, without resorting to this.

The McDonalds argument has been used numerous times here. People’s personal predudices come to the fore, and they argue McDonalds food doesn’t harm innocent bystanders like secondary smoking does. People’s dislike of smoking taints the rationality of their arguments.

The fact is, that food is bad for you if not eaten in moderation, and the company is free to push that product, aggressively, at children, without giving any warning. Unlike the alcohol industry, they do not have to say ‘Enjoy responsibly’ or ‘Enjoy in moderation’. They do not have to carry a Surgeon General’s warning that eating three Big Mac meals a day will kill you.

It’s not about who the product harms, or how much harm the product can cause. It’s about dictating the packaging of the product based on the opinions of a group of people.

If bottles of spirits had to be sold in the same shape bottle, made of plastic, with a picture of a passed-out drunk on the front, that might harm all the years Absolut worked on their brand, or Jacks Daniels. Like non-smokers, tee-totallers might rejoice, but would that make it fair?

What if all meat products came in a box showing the slaughter of the animal the meat came from? Vegetarians might be happy, but is it fair?

How about pictures of dead children resulting from religious conflicts on the cover of every Bible? Atheists might rejoice, but it’s not exactly fair, is it?

If the result is appealing, does that mean we should ignore the methods used to get there? I don’t think so. Apply these methods to something you love, and think about how you’d feel.

(And designers, you can always go design something else)

This is not just a “ban their Logo” act. This is actually a prohibition on a company’s right to differentiate itself from another.
Why not ban the whole industry and make it illegal? (yes we all know why)
I see this as just another huge hypocrisy.
The “ban of logos” will not change a thing if people still want to “kill them selfs slowly”.

I’m Australian, everyone I know supports this. It’s funny to hear comments about “government power”. We have a strong welfare state in Australia, government is how we work together for better outcomes. We have one of the strongest economies in the OECD, we are among the lowest taxed in the OECD, we have universal public healthcare and we have far better health outcomes than the USA at half the cost as a percentage of GDP. We’re ahead of the USA on the Human Development Index and way ahead when it’s adjusted for inequality. No one is saying people can’t smoke, the legislation is designed to reduce the numbers of new smokers by de-glamorising the product.

Additionally, if the aim is to prevent young people from starting smoking, this may just have for some (teen boys in particular), the opposite effect. “Young people” are notorious for doing what they think society does not approve of, it is an act of rebellion. And with images like the ones shown, a fair amount of teens might just find them alternative and cool. “I’m a bad boy, I disregard my safety, I live on the edge”, that is all too often the mentality of the kids they are trying to discourage from smoking.

Why not use some of the tax money from cigs to take children age 12 or 13 to a hospital and visit with terminally ill cancer patients and give them a “scared straight” type of experience. I don’t see removing the brand as being a solution that will effectively keep younger people from smoking.

The argument is very simple. Cigarettes contain physically addicting *drug* nicotine. McDonalds doesn’t sell drugs. Neither does Coca-Cola.

I do agree the thought that alcohol should be regulated similarly though.

I can’t get my head around the value of cigarettes at all. I’ve never smoked, and never will…

… But as one who is employed by an industry that thrives with capitalism and the visual culture that ensues, I must take offense at this. Making the huge, ugly warnings, imposing a vomit-themed color palette, and showing gruesome images on the packaging is one thing, but restricting the use of a company’s brand mark is just wrong on so many levels. I cannot stand behind a government’s decision to take such steps.

Everybody saying that this is a breach of rights, and that it is an awful thing that the cigarette companies are subject to different rules than the rest of us, are all monumentally missing the point.

This is UNASHAMEDLY holding cigarette companies to different rules than the rest of us, and UNASHAMEDLY decreasing the number of rights they have, because their core business is selling something that is chemically addictive and highly lethal.

Publishers and film companies do not have the right to sell pornographic material to minors, gun manufacturers do not have the right to sell semiautomatic firearms to someone in the street, cigarette companies do not have the right to use unique, idiosyncratic or attractive graphics on their packaging. End of story.

It’s not that hard to understand.

For the people who are ok with the government doing this, you’re fighting the wrong fight. If you are against smoking, then lobby and push to make smoking illegal, don’t go around limiting the rights and forcing companies, that are conducting legal business, to adhere to rules that no other industry anywhere has to abide by. The cigarette companies aren’t subject to different rules (unless this gets passed). That’s what’s unacceptable.

Shnotum, your last paragraph is just stupid. Cigarette companies are already limited, just like movie companies, alcohol companies, and firearms companies, to whom they can sell their product. Putting further restrictions upon them just because the government can’t legally prohibit them entirely is not the right path to take.

I don’t smoke, and regardless of it’s ill effects, those that do smoke know what they’re getting into. How could they not? Either make it illegal, or shut up and allow them to conduct business like any other business is capable of doing.

People are taking their passion against cigarettes and wrongly directing it towards this measure. This isn’t about cigarettes and their harmful effects, it’s about the right of companies to conduct business and protect their business, branding, and revenue like any other company in the country is.

“cigarette companies do not have the right to use unique, idiosyncratic or attractive graphics on their packaging. End of story.It’s not that hard to understand.”

Unless you live in other countries, where they do have the right to do that. The “Big 3” western counties US/GB/AU are restricting more freedoms than most of the third world. But it’s OK because it’s for your own good, so just shut up and stop arguing.

The real joke is that it’s all an empty gesture. Politicians LOVE to pretend they care about your anti-smoking crusade. They’ll make the cigarette companies jump through all sorts of hoops. But they will NEVER give up the billions in taxes that tobacco brings in.

Tobacco Inc. can keep their brand IDs and logos as long as they agree to pay all the medical fees and other damages their poisonous products spread. The jury agrees.

I’m an Australian. There’s been a lot of public debate about this which most people here haven’t been following, so let me try to fill in some of the gaps.

First off, I agree with everyone who said that prohibition doesn’t work. That’s why the government is not banning smoking. Pushing smoking underground is a bad idea, because it will just make organised crime more powerful. The goal is to make smoking socially unacceptable.

(Incidentally, several commenters pointed to teen rebellion as a driver for smoking. This can work for you or against you. Many of today’s teens see smoking as feeding the multinational corporate machine, and hence not smoking is rebellion. Most of them also want iPhones, which is ironic.)

One key difference between the US and the rest of the developed world, which has been pointed out above, is that the rest of the developed world has actual public health systems. It’s the taxpayer who often ends up footing the bill for smoking-related illness, so it’s in the taxpayer’s interest to stop people smoking.

Comparing this with alcohol or junk food is a good comparison up to a point. There is, after all, some precedent. In Australia, you’re not allowed to advertise alcohol to children, and you’re not allowed to advertise junk food during children’s programming times. I suspect that there are similar laws elsewhere.

In Australia, there is also a lot of government advertising and support for people to quit smoking. I would agree that it would be wrong to mandate plain packaging were this all that the government were doing.

Finally, tobacco advertising has already been banned almost everywhere. No advertising on TV, in magazines, sponsorship of sport and, most recently, having packs visible at the point of sale.

There is only one piece of advertising left which is legal: on the product itself.

Everyone here is a designer or design enthusiast. We all know that the design of the container is an integral component of brand advertising. If you’re okay with banning tobacco advertising, then I don’t see the problem with mandating plain packaging.

In one hand you have the right of freedom which is not respected by the government because they are obliging the tobacco companies to ruin their branding by showing warning messages.

In the other hand we need to make people aware that tobacco kills and the damage done is terrible and harms others who are non smokers.

I just think that the government is hypocritical. The reason why tobacco is so expensive is because of government taxes. If the government was that concerned about people damaging their health by smoking they can ban cigarette like cannabis and make it illegal!

So don’t bullsh*t us making us believe you care about our health because it’s not the case! You (government) want to make us believe you care by ruining companies’ liberty and punishing them for your stupidity!

“The argument is very simple. Cigarettes contain physically addicting *drug* nicotine. McDonalds doesn’t sell drugs. Neither does Coca-Cola.”

@Patrick: I feel this is a tenuous argument. There is a reason why Coca-Cola and McDonalds are two of the biggest global brands and advertising is only a part of that. The products themselves are addictive. Nicotine is addictive. So is caffeine and so are many of the ingredients that go into a typical McDonalds meal. Caffeine is a drug, just like nicotine, as a prescribed dose induces an effect – the only difference is simply that nicotine is more heavily regulated because of all the other toxins that are contained in the average cigarette.

Adults (and by extension, parents) should be responsible enough to consume commodities in moderation. I am pleased to live in a country that has for the most part freedom of choice. I am a non-smoker, and I exercise my right to choose to not support the tabacco industry, and when I am in contact with smokers, it’s because I acknowledge that I am going to a place (i.e club, pub) where this will happen in a designated area.

Personally, I think the Australian Government is playing a dangerous game. If one were to follow the logical extension of their rather draconian solution to smoking, it may lead to a black market of over inflated cigarettes run by organised crime. Rather extreme for a commodity we can just tax the hell out of.

– J

Bans like this are just steps towards the inevitable total ban on nicotine in western countries. Tobacco is a known serial killer that only governments can fight due to its widespread use and established position as a legal drug. And the hude business behind it. An immediate total ban would never work but a gradual change in culture will.

Graphic designers working for tobacco companies or, say, weapons manufacturers should consider the ethics of their work. Its ok to turn down jobs for ethical reasons. Makes you feel human.

Recent studies have shown that prolonged sitting in a chair (even if you exercise regularly) is extremely bad for our health. One scientist even proclaimed it to be as bad as smoking regularly. What, then, does this mean for chair manufacturers and their logos?

Your arguments are emotional and sentimental. Rationally, these things are killers. Addictive, exploitative killers that affect not only the smoker, but their families, sometimes to deadly effect.

Just becasue we’re used to having them around, smoking them, doesn’t mean they’re acceptable. They should be done away with in whatever fashion we can manage to do it.

However we do it, we’re stil ahead.

Mog, I hope you make the same arguments for alcohol, firearms, tons of prescription drugs, cars, and on, and on, and on.

This is brilliant – not just because I’m a non smoker and feel that not enough people care about what they are doing to their health as well as the people’s around them but also because this is a subject that crops up often in logo design – the idea of taking away the brand identity. Yes it’s a crazy idea and I do empathise with the brands in that it’s taking away their property so to speak but this creates a whole new ball game were branding is concerned and I’m interested to see a full shelf of these new packets, I think it will have the desired effect because on a shelf as a whole, the images will be quite powerful.

If all these cigarette companies want to continue making money, why don’t they start creating nicotine gum? It doesn’t have to be the kind to help people quit, it could just be a substitute for the cigarettes that gets rid of the worst elements – tar and the smoke that harms everyone around the smoker. In this way, they will be doing good as well as making a product that they will most likely be able to keep their branding on. But maybe I don’t know enough to come to this conclusion.

Well, let me weight in a little (ok, a lot!) here. Public healthcare is a good point. When the government funds all healthcare it is in their best interests to lower threats to that health they have control over to keep the costs down for them and the taxpayers. But why isn’t alcohol as equally controlled?

Where I come from alcohol addiction is 60% of the adult population. Average life expectancy because of alcohol use is 57. Sure cigarettes will kill you and shorten your life eventually, but alcohol is far worse in my experience. Course I have never met or known anyone who suffered or died from a disease that is cigarette use caused. But I know many who have died as a direct result of alcohol poisoning (the young) and organ failure (the middle aged) due to alcohol abuse. I grew up viewing generations of fetal alcohol syndrome, children hurt and killed by accident or on purpose by alcoholic parents (then there is the high suicide rate of these children as well), high rate of rape and spousal abuse, monthly drunk driving deaths, drowning or freezing to death because of being drunk, alcoholic schizophrenia, the usual injuries and comas due to drunk behavior, death from withdrawal, and homelessness. How many cigarette induced riots have you been at? That’s the horrible side, then there is the icky side of bad breath, bad hygiene, bad teeth, etc. How are cigarettes considered worse than all that? Oh, right, cancer. Sorry, still does not compute.

Just an aside the number one cause of childhood deaths in the United States is car accidents.

But let’s get back to cigarettes. What’s funny about cigarettes is they do not have to be addictive. Nicotine can be removed. Many of the harmful chemicals from the filters and burning the paper can be removed. Why has no one lobbied that kind of legislation? Probably the same reason why fast food is still allowed to add MSG (addictive), trans fat, high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals to their products. At least alcohol is alcohol. The only pretending there is advertising you can drink more light beer without the same damaging effects as regular beer.

Now as for second hand smoke, I get that. Smokers should be kept from child dominated public spaces. Totally. Not sure why smoking shouldn’t be allowed in bars, however. At least the smoke smell covers up the smell of vomit and urine from the drunks. I mean if you are already rotting your insides with alcohol, why ban smoking?

But second hand smoke is no worse for developing lungs than talcum powder, car exhaust (which makes up 85% of the world’s air pollution by the way), burning scented candled (I’m highly allergic to them), perfume and cologne in general, fabric softener, cleaning products, bug spray (pesticides in general), hair spray, forest fires, erupting volcanoes, industry exhaust, and so on. I’m not saying we shouldn’t control what we can, but why are cigarette smokers the most demonized out of all that?

My point? Simply, why aren’t alcohol products EQUALLY targeted and legislated? And as long as the product is legal, logos should at least be allowed to differentiate brands if nothing else. Although, considering how hard it is to get a job in the graphic design field these days, how many jobs will be lost by removing branding and marketing from cigarettes and alcohol?

One more thing, then I’m out.

It is possible to consume a safe amount of alcohol, sugar, etc. It is not possible to consume a safe amount of tobacco smoke, because there is no such thing as a safe amount.

This is the fundamental thing which distinguishes tobacco smoking from other vices.

I’m with David on this. Government protect the people. They made you wear crash helmets, seatbelts, banned cigarette advertising, dangerous drugs etc.

If you really believe in what you do as a designer you will realize that we have enormous power to persuade people to buy one thing over another. I’m surprised designers think it’s ok to persuade people to use something that can kill both them and other people. If you think cigarette branding doesn’t make a difference then why do cigarette companies spend as much money on their branding and why are you looking at a website about branding if you don’t believe it makes any difference?

As to the argument ‘where do you draw the line?’ how about ‘where do you start?’ This is a good place to start.

If the government’s purpose is to protect people, then why not just prohibit it altogether, as opposed to removing a company’s right to conduct business that the government and people have deemed ok for them to conduct? Not everyone agrees with the superbly negative view that the anti-smoking crowd has established. If a company has the right to use their brand to sell a motorcycle, alcohol, or chemical used for stripping paint, or to promote any other dangerous or unhealthy product/activity, then the companies selling a legal product should be enabled the same rights. Many cities have already gone as far as to prohibit smoking in all, or nearly all, public areas, thereby significantly reducing public risk. A company’s branding on the package isn’t going to entice someone to smoke any more than these disgusting images will turn someone off from it.

The larger point is that a company who is legally conducting a legal business, selling legal products is not allowed to do so in a manner that every single other company selling products in that country is. It’s simply mind boggling how it is being validated just because of the industry that it is, when the proper course of action, for these arguments, would be to simply ban the product.

People will always do things that are not healthy for them, these images aren’t going to discourage that.

I’m heavily debating investing heavily in a company that sells cigarette tins though, because the only thing this will do is drive people to put their cigarettes in a different package after they purchase them.

How many of the commentators railing against this decision would support the legalising of heroin, and be proud to help design the packaging for it? If you wouldn’t, then kindly explain why you make a distinction.

(And David, I hope your apparent change of tune is more than just an attempt to placate the angry hoards.)


This legislation is aimed at reducing the appeal of cigarettes to potential smokers – primarily teenagers. It is recognition that design can have a very big affect on the decisions of people, who generally would like to think that they’re rational, but of which there is overwhelming evidence that we’re not.

Most people in Australia, even the ever-dwindling numbers of smokers, support the initiative. This is despite the bleating of Big Tobacco (and the very popular opposition party) whose two self-evidently completely contradictory arguments are that it won’t reduce smoking *and* it will hurt retail businesses.

The costs of cigarettes to society are huge. The libertarian-at-all-costs philosophy apparently espoused by many on this page ignore the costs to society (beyond just that of the individual) of bad choices people make.

We’re fortunate in Australia to have a universal health system, which delivers far better health outcomes and costs substantially less than the system in the country which signifies the worst excesses of libertarianism, the United States of America. If we allow Big Tobacco to go unfettered, then the costs (both health and financial) would be massive.

I’d much rather live in Australia, where the limits on gun-ownership are high (and the incidence of murder is low), where seat belts are mandatory and speed cameras and random alcohol testing is common (and automobile deaths are comparatively low) and where we recognise that government has role in making a society a much better place for all than free-markets and unencumbered individualism alone would produce.

And regards the “just ban it” argument – doing so would be political suicide without strong bipartisan support over a considerable period of time. And that’s just not going to happen in the current political climate in Australia.

There are lots of things about societies which could be better if radical changes were made. But most people’s inherent conservatism means that change has to be effected incrementally.

Australia banned cigarette TV advertising and sports sponsorship thirty-odd years ago, and nobody – not even the most right-wing free-market think tanks is proposing it should be reintroduced. This is just another step along that path.

It’s been interesting learning your opinions. Thanks for chatting. At first, reading the comment thread made me doubt siding with the Government, but actually, the more I read, the more I think this is a step in the right direction.

Waiting to see how the initiative pans-out.

I really don’t have a problem with the banning of the marketing, but the banning of logos I do. I also believe they need to do the same thing to Alcohol. It is legal in the United States to advertise alcohol on television, but not cigarettes. That is wrong.

I do believe all drugs should be legal as long as alcohol is. It is the worst drug on society. But would I do design for them? No. I wouldn’t do design for alcohol either, though.

I would do design for marijuana, however. As a “drug” it has the most beneficial attributes.

This is a very dangerous path.

Read George Orwell -1984

Read V for Vendetta

Read The Anatomy of Fascism


I’m a graphic designer and this isn’t a problem of a graphical nature.

This it’s a door you cannot close…

This it’s wrong in so many ways!

You really need to live in Australia to understand how frustrating this is and another attempt or step for another govt to control the people in Australia.

IF you internationals just knew how overly regulated this place is already you would understand why this is just another nail in the coffin of what is suppose to be a democracy. The govt in Aust can’t have it both ways. It either gives up its massive tax surplus from taxing tobacco so high we pay almost 25 bucks for a packet of 50 cigs or bans them outright.

I am actually more concerned at the rampant alcoholism and gambling problems that Australia currently is facing, yet like cigs the govts don’t do a thing because of the massive amount of tax it imposes on these items.

As for the packaging, desensitised to it all these days. The amount of fear that the aust govt throws at us australians each day has made us so apathetic towards all this.

Dialog in a flower shop (today): “Let me wrap those for you.” “Oh, yes, please.” Minutes later a happy customer walks out of the shop, advertising for the shop on the wrapper.
Dialog in a tobacco shop (future): “Would you like your cigarettes wrapped?” “Oh, yes, please.” And the shopkeeper slides the ugly, unbranded package into a stylish, branded cover (maybe like those ones used for phones, maybe a tin, maybe a flat case that can be easily opened, etc.)
Advertising agencies and designers will find a way to use a brand. And maybe those new branding items will become new collectibles. Will this really reduce the number of cigarettes smoked?

They’re trying to keep both sides of the whole ‘Cigarette fight’ happy at the same time.
We all know that this won’t affect the number of smokers. People smoke. People have smoked for hundreds of years, and will continue to do so, even if they’re outlawed all together. Marijuana is illegal, and people still smoke that. (And I have never heard of ‘branded’ marijuana either).

If they really cared about the number of smokers in the country, or the safety of the population, then they can ban them out-right, but we all know they don’t want to do that, because they’d lose millions from taxes. They have already exhibited enormous amounts of power with this wreckless move.

As a designer, (and a non-smoker) I’m appalled that this is even being taken seriously. Whoever thought of this has NO idea when it comes to branding. I think taking away a company’s right to identity is almost as tyranical and evil as the smoking companies themselves.

I don’t like cigarettes, but this is a joke. I wonder what they will debrand next.

This is facism plain and simple. I can respect forcing them not to advertise so that kids wouldn’t grow up saying hey this is a great idea to smoke, but lets face it. People who decide to smoke do so with the knowledge that it will ABSOLUTELY kill them. This isn’t about your health or that the government even wants you to be healthy. If it was minimum wage would allow people enough money to buy proper housing and food that wasn’t produced by hostess snack cakes encorporated. AND employers would be requiered to give out health benifits. This packaging change is really just the start of a list of banned goods so that the government can cheaply provide everyone with healthcare at minimal expense. Once the cigarretts are gone they will start attacking snack foods and booze anything to cut from the bottom line cost of what they would have to pay to keep you alive and doing your filthy lowend job. This is just a single step towards loosing your freedom and if you give the government an inch they will ABSOLUTELY TAKE A MILE.

When you are eating rice and a handfull of nutritional supliments for every meal, and wonder where you went wrong. Remember this.

“But we’ve spent billions of dollars in branding!” Waaaaa, play me the smallest violin. Wanna compare numbers with health care directly associated with tobacco? Nobody will be forbidden from from smoking (they can’t stop anyway), so let’s cut the fascism crap. The government is simply trying to correct a mistake by taking away a privilege that should have never been granted in the first place: the privilege of allowing lethal substances to look appealing. I have nothing against drugs, per se (they should all be legal anyway), but let’s not fool ourselves: cigarettes are nothing but poison – not only to smokers but also to those around them – so they should be branded as such.

Yeah, as a designer I’m gutted I wont be able to design branding for cigarette packs any more. Whatever.

I’m totally on the side of the government on this one.

So, are we going after McDonalds now? They KILL far more people with their products than cigarettes or ceegars do, I live in USA and see their VICTIMS everyday.

Got to say BOLLOCKS to this, open your eyes people!

I just think it’s funny that’s “it’s cool to hate smoking now” yet most of us don’t realize that humans consume 2x as much meat as 30 years ago and meat roughly constitutes for 40% of our contamination problems worldwide.

But yeah, smoking is bad eh? But contaminating the ONLY planet we have through meat a huge meat consumption FUELED by large fast food chains, is “alright”?

Typical bollocks. Smoking kills 15,000 dude a year. How about when our world kills us all?

I’m totally for this.

Studies have shown how it’s worked preventing teen smoking in Canada. It’s a positive move. Of course tobacco should live by a different set of rules to the rest of the world. They’re selling an addictive product that kills people:

Would you design a logo for a heroin dealer to advertise their product?

I doubt it.

Are tobacco companies being stripped of their rights?

Of course they are, and that’s a great thing. Considering they shouldn’t exist at all, this is a really small move in the right direction.

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