Australian Smokers Think Plain Packaging Makes Tobacco Taste Worse

Plain_cigarette_packagingPlain tobacco packaging is a global movement aimed at undoing decades of ads and branding messages. Tobacco products get sold in identical plain boxes with only plain letters on the front: no logos, no pictures. Well, that’s not true: there are gruesome pictures of smoking-related illnesses. Plain packaging is now the law in Australia, and smokers don’t like it. Because they say their tobacco tastes different now.

How does that work? It could be a fascinating lesson about brand perception, and how many your cigs don’t taste as smooth when you have to look at an ulcerated eye before slipping one out of the package. No way, smokers claim: they think that a conspiracy is afoot.

Why would tobacco companies do such a thing? To recoup the expense of making special packages just for Australia, of course. (If this theory were true, the lawsuits tobacco companies keep filing against the government are also a significant expense.) “With all of the changes they were forced to make, there was no way to recoup their money, so the cigarette companies appear to have taken advantage of it and sourced their product from somewhere else,” the owner of one venerable tobacco shop in Sydney told the New York Times.

This is one thing that tobacco companies and the government agree on: no one has made changes to their tobacco for the Australian market.

Complaints began even before the plain-packaging law went into effect on December 1 of last year. “[P]eople being confronted with the ugly packaging made the psychological leap to disgusting taste,” insists the country’s health minister.

Law Spoils Tobacco’s Taste, Australians Say [New York Times]
Plain packaging leaves bad taste in smokers’ mouths [Daily Telegraph]