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Why do we smoke?

Lydia asks the ultimate question, why do we smoke?

As anti-smoking fever sparks, smokers are finding themselves
chastised not for their habit but for being fashion conscious about it. It is
now believed that those smoking plainly packaged cigarettes are perceived as
more uncool and less sociable and, as a result, government initiatives to make
all cigarette packets plain and unappealing are coming into play.

On July the 1st 2012, Australia will become the first
country to take up the plain packaging ploy to deter smokers enticed by cool,
attractive packaging. Australia’s health minister Nicola Roxon will lead the
initiative which will ensure that all cigarette packets are a uniform olive
green colour, with company names branded small and in an equally dreary
fashion.

England may soon follow the lead of the man down under, as
UK health secretary Andrew Lansley heads a campaign to ban cigarette packet
displays in shops as of 2015. The initiative is part of the “Healthy Lives,
Healthy People: a tobacco control plan for England” campaign released by the
Department of Health earlier this year. The plan boasts a target to reduce
regular smoking among 15 year olds to 12% by the end of 2015. Smoking amongst
children is a major health and social issue but whilst Lansley fronts a
worthwhile cause he does not make a particularly spirited attempt, the
percentage was only 15% when the report was published.

Many people admonish government attempts to limit and
prohibit smoking. The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking
Tobacco (Forest) is a society dedicated to bemoaning the mounting limitations
on smoking in public. On their website you can even find fun pro-smoking quotes
from our favourite big names including Kate Moss, Arnie Schwarzenegger and Dot
Cotton.

The smouldering issue for members of Forest is that they
feel targeted by society for what is, really, a perfectly legal habit. Sparks
are flying amongst Forest members who dismiss scientific studies suggesting that
smokers buy cigarettes simply on impulse and therefore that plainer packaging
on a certain brand of cigarettes will make them less popular. In am arguably
blasé response, Andrew Lansley says that young smokers are: “attracted to smoke
by glitzy packaging”.

It might seem an over exaggeration to the conscious
cigarette consumer that smokers in the UK are lured in by branding and
packaging. In Russia the leading tobacco company is forfeiting the new, pink
and pretty “Kiss” brand cigarettes targeted to young women with the slogan: “I
love everything new, tasty and round!” On 12 August this summer, the Commission
of the Federal Antimonopoly Service deemed the slogans and packaging of the
brand inappropriate as it depicts of minors and glamorizes smoking. Romanticizing
cigarettes to young girls using sexy images is clearly inappropriate, but it is
a world apart from the big round circle on a pack of Lucy Strikes and these
different forms of packaging will not influence buyers in the same way.

Fifty years ago a young American man named Ford Rogers published
an article insisting that plainer cigarette packaging would make smoking much
more convenient for the fashionable young man or woman about town. We might
laugh at such a suggestion now but Rogers makes a novel point and funnily
enough agrees with Lansley that smokers are indeed attracted to “glitzy
packaging”. Rogers’ argument outlines the problems smokers encounter when
having to choose from an array of attractively packaged cigarette brands, and
he notes that many smokers overcome this dilemma by buying more than one packet
at a time. Rogers does not propose that carrying more than one packet of
cigarettes will inevitably encourage a person to smoke more frequently, but he
considerately points out the inconvenience of fitting so many half empty
packets in your pocket!

Smokers may feel insulted at the suggestion that their habit
is a fashion accessory, insisting instead that it is a lifestyle choice and
therefore deeming the packaging irrelevant. It will most likely be firmly
stated that the general public are not under the thumb of the advertising media
or blind to its subtle powers of persuasion. Having said this, everyone seemed
to want a white iPhone 4 so where does it end?

0 comments on “Why do we smoke?

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