Neutral cigarette packets are the future, government decides
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    Neutral cigarette packets are the future, government decides

    ®Rand Corporation
    ®Rand Corporation

    Belgium will adopt the Australian idea of selling cigarettes in neutral, brand-free packets from now on, federal minister for public health Maggie De Block as announced. The minister announced the idea only weeks ago, but has since received a rapid agreement from government colleagues. The measure means that cigarette brands will no longer be able to us attach us to their familiar brands signs – Marlboro, Rothmans and others – to draw a customer’s attention at the point of sale. All packets will appear the same, usually displaying images of people suffering from the most common effects of smoking – lung cancer, heart disease and other pulmonary disorders. The images are supposed to remove the attractive image presented by the tobacco companies – the Marlboro Man cowboy (who died of lung disease) and the Rothmans smoker, portrayed as an airline pilot

    The images projected were never allowed to be seen smoking, but the association was clear. Cool guys were smokers, and therefore smokers were cool guys.

    However later history has made the opposite clear: smokers are guys who have to go outside in the rain while everyone else is enjoying a meal and a drink; smokers are the people who make it impossible to enjoy a summery terrace because it’s their only refuge on a nice day.

    In any group of four people, you may well be abandoned to yourself while three of them go off to have a fag without you. As a long-time smoker myself, I realise the damage done. I also realise the fact that it’s actually considered impolite to even bring the subject up, even though I’m doing nothing wrong.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times