ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Plain Packaging of Cigarettes

Packaging is a key marketing tool for tobacco companies and offers a wider reach than advertising. Plain packaging legislation prohibits the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products. In countries where it has been introduced, a large number of smokers were shown to be more likely to give quitting smoking a higher priority in their lives.

In December 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce legislation mandating plain packaging for tobacco products. Plain packaging legislation prohibits the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products. However, brand and product names are allowed in a prescribed, standardised colour and style, in addition to pictorial health warnings. Our contention is that the Government of India (GOI) must seriously consider introducing this legislation to stem the preventable deaths of more than 1.2 million Indians annually due to tobacco use. Tobacco’s active ingredient is nicotine, an addictive substance. But contributing to the persistence of the addiction is the status associated with the attractiveness of the package in which the substance itself is marketed and sold. The manner in which tobacco packaging serves the purpose of sustaining this addiction in its current users and converting new ones to it is well researched and has been perfected by the tobacco industry.

Tobacco packaging has served India’s tobacco companies in multiple ways. This goes well beyond assisting in product differentiation and is commonly termed “selling from the shelf”. It includes, but is not limited to brand identification, brand navigation and finally, brand selection. The pack is an important component of an overarching strategy to not only create a brand but also a future cohort of addicts. One may even argue that as part of the branding exercise, packaging assists in developing brand loyalty. Packaging is used to promote the product by using the same strategies employed by other consumer goods firms: specifically, packaging innovation, design and value packaging.

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