Plain packages; colourful views

19:27, Feb 19 2013

News that the Government will introduce plain packaging for tobacco products met with scepticism and delight in opposing Timaru camps yesterday.

Murray Gibson, a Timaru tobacco retailer for 50 years, does not think the Government introducing plain packaging will make one iota of difference in deterring potential smokers.

But Cancer Society and Community & Public Health smoke-free promoters are thrilled with the announcement.

The owner of Murray's Barbershop, Mr Gibson said he had already had to change the name of his business because he was not allowed to mention cigarettes or tobacco, he was not allowed to advertise them, has had to lock them up out of sight and next he will have problems working out which packets are what brand.

Mr Gibson complained that the proposal would just make life difficult for retailers.

"If I could see empirical evidence that it stops young people starting to smoke I would be happy with [it]."


Despite his reservations Mr Gibson said he was a law-abiding citizen and would comply. His son, Geoff, who also worked at the shop, said he has been surrounded by cigarette packets all his life and he never wanted to smoke. He was strong on allowing people to make personal choices.

"People have the right to do what they want. Everyone has habits. I drink coke."

Community & Public Health (CPH) smokefree health promoter Leola Ryder said research showed that attractive branding created subliminal messages in the brain, so taking away the colours could protect children in the future from starting the habit.

Canterbury and West Coast division Cancer Society health promotion manager Martin Witt said packaging was the final piece of cigarette promotion to be removed. He said tobacco was not like other products bought at the dairy or supermarket: it killed people.


Health Associate Minister Tariana Turia yesterday confirmed the Government will introduce plain packaging for tobacco products, hopefully some time next year.

The plain packaging will carry large graphic images of the harm smoking can do and warnings, but its brand name will be in small plain black and white print.

The Timaru Herald