Saturday, 31 May 2008

The Colour Of Smoke

Dawn Primarolo and her cronies at the Department of Health are, quite plainly, beyond help - and are certainly beyond the reach of rational thought. In their latest onslaught against the smoker, Nanny Dawn and co. think it would be a cool idea to replace distinctive cigarette packaging with something a little less noticeable, preferably in black and white.

Why? Well, according to the Telegraph, it's because kids allegedly make easy associations with branding materials, such as packaging. Even if that's true, and I've no idea whether it is or not, I can see no rational reason for that making any difference whatsoever. After all, the same Nannies are planning to force shops to keep their tobacco products out of sight under the counter, so how are the kids - who shouldn't be buying the product anyway - going to see them, let alone bond with a brand?

Clearly, they won't. "Ahhh," Nanny Dawn will no doubt say, "but what about AFTER someone has bought some ciggs for themselves? Kids might see them with 20 Bensons, and think it's cool to copy them." Well, yes, they might, it's true. But a little deeper thought - difficult for members of this Government, I know - will show that removing the branding won't help. In fact, it might just make matters worse.

See, if the wannabe smoker can't tell one brand from another because they all look the same, it doesn't matter which brand they buy in order to look "cool", does it? That's particularly true of younger victims of Britain's Labour-made lack-of-education system, who will really struggle to READ the wording on the packet. It's the same logic that persuades people to buy cheap "lookalike" products that are a fraction of the cost and quality of genuine designer gear, but will do the job - one black and white rectangle will be very much like another, and so the pack containing the cheapest cigg factory floor sweepings at a much lower price will be a perfectly acceptable substitute for Silk Cut - or any other more expensive brand.

Legal smokers (I wonder how long that term will apply?) on the other hand, are going to face yet more inconvenience, as it becomes progressively more difficult to tell whether the shop you're in actually has your fave brand in stock. The idea is clearly flawed at all levels - it won't work, it will make it easier for new smokers to look "cool", it will annoy legal smokers and might even encourage some of them who are sold the wrong brand by accident (you know it's going to happen) to switch to cheaper ciggs, costing the Treasury a fortune.

Thought is obviously just not possible in the corridors of power any more. Still, it won't be long before they're out on their ear, will it? In the meantime, when the crackpot scheme of hiding the smokes under the counter was first mooted some months ago, I drew parallels with the concept of buying "adult" magazines, and suggested that, before long, we'd have to buy our smokes under plain cover. Looks like I wasn't so far wrong - again.

Billy Seggars.

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