In its effort to curb smoking, Australia became the first country in the world to implement a law that requires all cigarette manufacturers to use plain cigarette packaging.
The Australian government hoped that the legislation could reduce the prevalence of smoking as research suggest that using plain cigarette packs can improve the impact of health warning messages as well as reduce the attractiveness of cigarette products and their ability to send out the idea that their product is not as harmful as other tobacco products in the market.
More than a year after Australia implemented the tobacco plain packaging legislation, volume sales of tobacco products in supermarkets dropped 0.9 percent and this make up a chunk of market sales. Unfortunately, the drop is attributed not primarily on the plain packaging but on other factors. It appears that the 12.5 percent increase in tobacco excise, which increased the price of cigarettes from AU$17.50 to AU$19.70 per pack, became a big factor that deter people from buying cigarettes.
Noticeably, supermarket sales data provided by Retail World showed that despite the 8 to 9 percent drop in sales volumes of premium and mainstream cigarettes, sales of value cigarette brands increased to almost 13 percent.
"Smokers don't mind plain packaging actually, the critical thing is the price hike," said James Yu, who sells cigarettes in central Sydney.
Still, it appears that other countries want to adopt Australia's pioneering legislation. United Kingdom, for instance, is apparently intent on adopting a plain packaging legislation. U.K's Department of Health is set to launch a consultation whether it should adopt standardized packaging for cigarettes following the conclusion of the Sir Cyril Chantler review that says doing so could lead to modest albeit significant drop in smoking rates.
"There is very strong evidence that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion increases the likelihood of children taking up smoking," the report said. "Industry documents show that tobacco packaging has for decades been designed, in the light of market research, with regard to what appeals to target groups. Branded cigarettes are 'badge' products, frequently on display, which therefore act as a 'silent salesman"
Other countries that also consider adopting plain cigarette packaging include India, South Africa, New Zealand and France.