The United Kingdom government is fighting a fierce battle against the tobacco companies, doing everything short of helping people to quit smoking (a move that would both cost money and cut into the precious taxes gained from tobacco companies and smokers) in their efforts to look good to other countries. Governments eh? The latest strike in this raging war is a strike against the fashion sense of smokers themselves as the government is considering forcing all packs to be moved to a single uniform brown or grey colour so that the colourful packets don't attract youngsters to start smoking in the first place.
"We have to try new approaches and take decisions to benefit the population. That's why I want to look at the idea of plain packaging." says Andrew Lansley, the UK Secretary of Health, "The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It's wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets. We will shortly set out a radical new approach to public health in a white paper. We want to go further and faster in improving the health of the nation based firmly on doing what the evidence tells us works."
Yeah, because we don't want bright colours attracting children to a potentially fatal, lifelong addiction, do we?
Still, at least that company hasn't taken cheap measures to try and appeal to older consumers in one way or another, unlike the evil tobacco companies. Anyway, the point is I'm on both sides of this argument. As a smoker I totally agree that we should be doing everything possible to stop kids from starting smoking. For starters I'm sick of brats asking me to buy them a pack of smokes whenever I go to the shop, and I'm sick of my brand running out too. But here's the problem, lots of shops these days have non-smokers who work there and they're legally not allowed to specify someone has to be a smoker to get the job. This means that when I ask for a pack at a shop where a non-smoker is working I'm constantly having to guide them around the display to the pack I want. It's like a voice operated version of those old arcade claw machines – "Left a bit, down three rows. Stop! No, stop!!! Up two rows. That's left, you need to go up. That's the row, now go across to the right twice. No, you've gone up as well!!! Go back down to where you were and then go right by a single pack. That isn't where you were. Are you fucking with me? Get me a smoker to serve me, dammit!!!" I'm not kidding you, that happens every single time I try to buy a pack of smokes from a non-smoker. So yes, this plan may cut down on new smokers (even though so many people started smoking back when cigarettes were sold in plain brown paper packets, and so many buy loose tobacco with no wrapping at all these days), but the stress caused to those of us who already smoke will increase our intake (if we can ever buy a packet) by enough to keep the tobacco companies rolling in cash and the government in enough smoking taxes to let them try another zany plan.
I wonder if they'll get around to targeting Ronald, who is a massive threat to children's health, in the same way?