I have read and heard so much on the ‘war’ on cigarette packaging over the last few years; first in New Zealand and now in Australia, so I thought I would write a brief blog to outline some of the cases for and against plain packaging for cigarettes from the various players, for the sole purpose of educating you on the importance of packaging for your business.
As you will see in the arguments outlined below, both sides believe that packaging is the life or death of a brand, and that’s why they are fighting tooth and nail over the plain packaging proposal. “The packaging of tobacco is a major part of its advertising ….that's why ASH and many other organisations support mandated plain standardised packaging of tobacco products - and why the industry is fighting it.”
“There are strong grounds for believing that current packaging glamourises smoking and that tobacco products packaged in a standardised colour, typeface and form would improve the effectiveness of health warnings, reduce misconceptions about relative harmfulness of various brands and reduce the overall appeal of smoking….The intensity of opposition to plain packaging legislation by tobacco companies suggests that tobacco industry executives believe that such measures will reduce sales and company profits.” 
The case for plain packaging
1. Plain packaging will help make smoking history:
ASH Australia director Prof Simon Chapman has told UK health leaders plain packs will help "make smoking history" Stripping cigarette packs of their colourful exteriors and forcing them to be sold in plain packaging could prove fatal for the global tobacco industry. The Tobacco Journal International, the self-styled leading international trade publication for executives in the world of tobacco’s front covers in 2008 said simply: "Plain packaging can kill your business."
Chapman explains "We're not expecting plain packaging to have much impact on existing smokers. It's a policy about the next generation of kids who are coming through, so we would expect to slowly starve the industry of new customers by de-normalising and de-glamorising their products."
Bind taste tests show that consumers detect little difference between most brands of cigarettes, the successful marketing of some brands as cool, or macho, or feminine, or "lite" has helped sustain a hierarchy in which premium brands sell for a lot more than budget lines, despite costing much the same to produce.
In an era of widespread bans on tobacco advertising, seductive packaging remains the last place where what Chapman calls "semiotic signalling" is maintained. Replace those colourful packets with nothing but a plain colour, the manufacturer's name and a massive health warning, and many people will stop buying the premium brands, he argues.
“Adults and adolescents perceive cigarettes in plain packs to be less appealing, less palatable, less satisfying and of lower quality compared to cigarettes in current packaging. Plain packaging would also affect young people’s perceptions about the characteristics and status of the people who smoke particular brands.”
Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie says plain packaging is an effective way to deter potential smokers. "We have research that shows the more that we remove design elements from cigarette packs the less appealing they are to teenagers." Ms Sharkie says it is a necessary move."It's a product that we shouldn't have any glamour or fashionability or aspiration associated with," she said. "It's a deadly product and we need to do every thing we can to remove anything attractive about it."
Cigarette companies are panicking over plans to enforce plain packaging because the move will harm sales. Former tobacco Marketing Executive Craig Seitam says "They're going to lose all of their brand identity…But more important, I think that the packet that they like to sit down on pub and restaurant tables and on their desks are now going to be less seductive and attractive to potential new smokers."
2. It would reduce misconceptions about ‘healthier’ cigarettes:
Unregulated package colouring and imagery contribute to consumers’ misperceptions that certain brands are safer than others. Removing colours from cigarette packs and misleading terms such as ‘smooth’, ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ would reduce false beliefs about the harmfulness of cigarettes. 
The case against plain packaging
1. It will fuel a cigarette black market:
Selling via an unregulated black market could mean people will get their hands on more harmful cigarettes. Australia's big tobacco companies have made new claims about an increase in illicit tobacco trade in the run-up to plain packaging laws coming into force. 
2. The government would lose out on billions of dollars in tax revenue:
A report by Deloitte commissioned by BAT, Philip Morris and Imperial claims counterfeit and contraband tobacco, fuelled by the packaging reform, has tripled in the past year, costing a billion dollars in lost tax revenues. 
3. A government enforcing plain packaging violates global intellectual property laws:
Honduras has complained to the World Trade Organization, claiming that Australia's plain pack laws violate global intellectual property rules. 
In conclusion, tobacco companies do not want to be forced to package their cigarettes in a plain boxes because packaging is vital to a company’s advertising strategy, brand image, consumers perceptions, attractiveness to the younger generation, and most importantly, sales and profits.
“Plain packaging can kill your business." 
 (Section 5.2.3) http://www.cancer.org.au/File/PolicyPublications/Position_statements/TCUCCVBkgrndResrchPlainPak190511ReEnd_FINAL2.pdf
 (Section 5.2.2) http://www.cancer.org.au/File/PolicyPublications/Position_statements/TCUCCVBkgrndResrchPlainPak190511ReEnd_FINAL2.pdf
 . http://www.news.com.au/business/cigarette-smugglers-beat-plain-packaging-laws/story-e6frfm1i-1226345382857
Clara Cassidy, Founder and Marketing Manager of Custom Printed Bags & Boxes, is a marketing professional with years of experience in branding, promotions and events.