Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1099 Plain Brown Wrapper

1099  Plain Brown Wrapper

When someone promises to send you something in one of those, you can bet it’s something you don’t want your spouse, your kids or your mail carrier to know about.

In earlier times, plain brown wrappers were used to send “Illustrated booklets, the kind men like.”  Soft core porn.  Now, it’s diet pills or books that tell you how to win the woman of your dreams or stuff to grow hair or remove it.  And cigarettes.

Yes, cigarettes.  Australia has a new law that says a pack of smokes must be clothed in a plain brown wrapper with a standard and uniform size and style of typeface listing the brand.

This is a far cry from Australia’s distant but cultural neighbor, Canada, where not only are brand names proudly displayed but are accompanied by gruesome pictures of diseased lungs and deformed faces as part of their version of the US’ “Surgeon General’s Warning.”

What’s Australia’s point?  Why to reduce the attractiveness of the package and therefore discourage people from smoking.  Nice try Canberra, but no... um... cigar.

The packaging change will have no effect on anything except the canning of the relatively well paid designers who will have to look elsewhere for work.  We suggest the labels and bottles or cans of alcoholic beverages.

In reporting on the new law, “The Economist” magazine calls the tobacco industry “weirdly resilient.”  Indeed.  Except the “weirdly” part.  Yes, cigarette sales are down in the US.  Yes, there may be some cutbacks in other parts of the world.   But there’s nothing as dedicated as a smoker.  The big companies have nothing to worry about.

Smokers settle on brands early on.  New smokers are born every day.  If they’re born into a world without fancy labels, they’ll still find their way to a brand and keep buying it.

Mayor Bloomberg, a reformed smoker, has tried to tax cigarettes in New York to the point that only he can afford them and he’s not buying.  It hasn’t worked.

Health advocates have peppered then pounded us with the wisdom of giving up the evil weed.  To an extent this has worked.  But you see an awful lot of young people taking up tobacco use.  While it’s no longer cool to smoke Kools, smoking does kick the metabolism up and that convinces young women that smoking will keep their weight down.  And it will.

Depressed people will use cigarettes to counteract their malfunctioning serotonin reuptake mechanisms.

Smokers are born, not created.

And no change in packaging is going to change that.

Now, about those illustrated booklets...


Shrapnel:

--Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.  Except a few of you. You know who you are and I know where you live.

--Sac(k)ed!  Former SAC hedge fund honcho Steve Cohen charged with a $276 (m) million insider trading scheme.  One hundred percent of those responding to an on-line poll in the Los Angeles Times say they think this kind of thing is common.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2010

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