by Julian Morris
Adam Smith Institute
April 22, 2014
For decades governments have been trying to persuade smokers to kick the habit. Yet still many people continue to smoke. In response, public health advocates have pushed for the elimination of most brand information on packs of cigarettes and, simultaneously, for mandatory graphic images on those packs. In December 2012, Australia became the first nation to require cigarettes to be sold in such “plain” packs. An online survey of smokers carried out in two phases, the first a month before and the second six to eight weeks after the introduction of the plain packaging rules, suggest that the impact of the rules on quitting tendencies is probably small. Contraband cigarettes now account for more than half of illegal sales and about 7.5% of all sales. Other countries contemplating the introduction of plain packaging would be well advised to postpone any decision until its effects in Australia are better understood.

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