Graphic warnings appear to be working
SMOKERS are being confronted by images of the effects of smoking cigarettes.
Quitline executive director Fiona Sharkie said calls had increased for the first time, since plain packaging laws came into effect last month. But non-smokers are also facing the disturbing images.
Because brand details on packs are now more difficult to see, shop assistants are looking closely tomake sure they are giving customers what they have asked for.
Mundubbera shop assistant Jess Allen said she thought the images were “disgusting”.
“And I have to look at them constantly,” she said.
While some retailers believe the new packaging may reduce smoking, most are unsure and will wait to see.
“People who intend to keep smoking but who are offended by the images are taking other steps to avoid seeing them,” Mrs Allen said. “One customer told me she saved an old packet and transfers the cigarettes from the new packs into the old one.”
Ms Sharkie said she was not concerned by reports of smokers using Post-It notes, masking tape and even Band-Aids to cover the graphic warnings, which are three times larger than on the previous packs.
“We are hearing of a lot of avoidance behaviour,” she said.
“But that doesn’t mean they’re not working. The fact that people go to the trouble to not see it is a very positive thing from our perspective.”
The new packs are olive green. They are free from logos and 75% of the front is covered by a graphic health warning.
The Cancer Council of Australia believes they’ll save lives.
Team leader Tobacco Programs Rachel Hull said 20 years of research revealed slick tobacco packaging was particularly powerful for attracting young people.
“International and Australian evidence shows the look and feel of a cigarette packet has a strong influence on the buying intentions of young people,” she said. “This is a win for the long-term health of young Australians, as it has the potential to reduce the numbers of young people who take up smoking.”
Cancer Council Queensland believes the loss of logos, colours and flashy brands will prevent people taking up the habit, and may encourage established smokers to quit.
Anyone seeking information can call Quitline 13 QUIT (137 848).