Just as Imperial Tobacco is launching trendy Davidoff iD cigarettes with a cute slide mechanism that reveals specially commissioned art, so Japan Tobacco International is making the case that ‘common sense and evidence say [plain packaging] won’t work’.
Cigarettes have always been about lifestyle. I’ve never smoked, but I can see how cool the guys in Mad Men look and how a carefully posed cigarette can be strangely sexy. Perhaps, like alcohol, they appear to the child to be something adult and so mature and aspirational. Openly smoking tells the world that one is an adult prepared to take a little risk for a little pleasure. Smoking a Davidoff iD, with its showy glide mechanism and original art is supposed to say this smoker is particularly cool and sophisticated; someone prepared to spend a little extra for the nice touches that transform everyday objects, like fag packets, into things of beauty. Imperial’s marketing people unashamedly explain that they hope to attract brand-conscious smokers in the eighteen to 24-year-old bracket (that is, those just old enough to legally buy their own fags)
Drab plain packaging is unlikely to cure those who are already addicted to tobacco, because once addicted it’s exceptionally difficult to quit. So long term, tobacco can only be defeated by halting the recruitment of new smokers. Stopping Imperial Tobacco and others from making smoking more attractive, is an important step toward changing the way cigarettes are percieved. Big Tobacco knows this and that’s why it is so keen to keep fags trendy.