Tobacco companies may try to circumvent tough new laws requiring no-frills packaging by branding and colouring their cigarettes to make them more attractive to smokers.
Professor Simon Chapman from the University of Sydney’s school of public health said the next step for manufacturers would be to differentiate cigarettes: ”There are certainly companies around the world experimenting with different looks, coloured filters and sticks. They could make cigarettes in the shape of joints, for example, or in fluorescent paper.”
Professor Chapman said the federal government’s plan to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes in 2012 would be a big blow to tobacco companies who rely heavily on colours, logos and branding to promote their product. ”There’s ample evidence that if you blindfold smokers, they can’t even tell their own brand,” he said.
A recent Scottish study showed that packaging was a key means of promoting cigarettes, and getting around laws banning cigarette advertising.
Tobacco companies have reacted angrily to the government’s announcement last week, with the Imperial Tobacco Group and British American Tobacco Australia saying they are prepared to mount a legal challenge.
A spokeswoman said the company would defend the intellectual property of packaging.