Australia cigarette packagingPhoto by AFP

Following up on last year’s cigarette pack logo ban in Australia, a study published on the BMJ website has found that unbranded packs are an effective deterrent.

“Compared with branded pack smokers, those smoking from plain packs perceived their cigarettes to be lower in quality, tended to perceive their cigarettes as less satisfying than a year ago, were more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day in the past week, and rate quitting as a higher priority in their lives.”

Australia cigarette packagingPhoto by Maria Nguyen

Standardised cigarette packaging is rightly on the political agenda here in the UK, but stories are emerging about David Cameron’s electoral strategist Lynton Crosby signing a contract with cigarette firm Philip Morris International (PMI) for lobbying services worth an estimated £6M.

That’s the same Lynton Crosby who, in a leaked document obtained by The Guardian, advised a group of private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS during Government plans for NHS reform.

Money first. Health second.

Via Zerofee.


I didn’t realize you were from the UK David! This may be a wacky idea but perhaps politicians shouldn’t have any industrial ties, as maybe, just maybe it could compromise their judgement.

Obviously it’s fantastic that lives are being saved by packaging and that design has purpose beyond the aesthetic. I’m just trying to figure out why alcohol packaging is still allowed to look nice.

Interesting, isn’t it, that opponents of plain packaging claim it doesn’t reduce smoking but are still prepared to pump millions into opposing it.

I remember reading about the packaging for cigarettes getting changed to make them less attractive. Glad to see its working. Just makes me wonder will tobacco companies lobby full force to get it overturned.

Actually, these cigarettes are branded. Instead of being branded with the manufacturer’s message, now they are branded with Australia’s anti-smoking message. Given the graphics, no wonder they are perceived as less satisfying.

Tim nailed it in his comment, a unbranded package would just be a white square box (and I guess, even that could be percieved as branding?)

It’s good though, a culturally accepted healthrisk like smoking should come with the warning, perhaps not for the older (or the odd; smokes for pleasure) but for the younger, easier influenced consumer group that doesn’t always get the message: Your actions have consequences.

This makes me think of your older post about morals and ethics in design David. Can’t remember if it was here or on your own site or on ID though!

The political ‘industrial ties’ is a BIG issue in my mind.
Nothing will change unless we bring in legislation which stops politicians from profiteering (even indirectly) from anything whilst they are practicing.

Though this will never happen.


The unbranded cigarettes idea is amazing (with some nasty pictures). Reducing smokers is a great way to achieve some kind of health balance (even if it helps a little).

Whilst this is a great idea in theory, and I am all for it, if packaging is simplified and standardised it makes producers of fake (unregulated and more dangerous) products lives so much easier. The packaging shown above would be very easy to rip off as opposed to the fiddly OTT embossed and foil blocked packaging that we see at the moment.

Thanks for sharing, David! I’m an advertising student in Brazil and cigarettes and anti-smoking actions are subjects of my interest. Here in Brazil we have the packs with the brands on one side, and a message, like this in Australia, on the other side. Some studies show that this have been reducing the numbers of smokers.

This .PDF shows the current images in the packs. It’s in portuguese, but the images are universal:

The Australian government has been telling us that this having an effect on smokers, and it is perceived less desirable, but I’d love to see some figures. Just telling me “it works” is not enough.

Share a thought