Cigarettes Are About to Become Even Less Cool if WHO Has its Way

The World Health Organization (WHO) wants to suck any lingering ‘glamour’ out of smoking.

Following the example of a growing number of countries, the WHO is now calling on other nations to prepare for plain packaging of cigarettes. In an editorial published in the medical journal The Lancet, the WHO says plain packaging marks a major move forward in reducing tobacco use and its associated health risks.

Australia was first to adopt the plain packaging legislation back in 2012. Last week the UK and France implemented their own legislation. Apparently, Ireland will be next and several other countries are considering the move to generic packs.

As for Canada (where nobody would even think to light up on a patio), stricter packaging laws were part of the government’s election platform. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the introduction of a plain packaging legislation a “top priority.”

While the packaging won’t likely be enough to inspire long time smokers to quit (especially when these alarming stats don’t), it’s definitely a global step in the right direction when it comes to phasing out cigarettes.


As reported by the CBC, the logos on cigarette packs are designed to target young people – the same people who grew up bombarded with sometimes-graphic messages warning against smoking.

“The brands, the logos, they’re there to appeal to young people,” says David Hammond, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, whose research focuses on labelling and packaging to reduce chronic illness. He calls the Marlboro man “one of the most valuable brands and images in the world.” And he’s probably right. “People associate those images with positive images of smoking, whether that’s being sexy or masculine.”

He says that the labels have contributed to a decline in smoking in Australia and thinks the same thing could happen in Canada. Sadly, however, a new study has just revealed that 72 per cent of smokers say that things like picture warnings or plain packaging would have little impact on their dangerous habit.

Perhaps a steep tax hike on cigarettes will?

In the meantime, the focus for this year’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31 is on plain packaging of tobacco products. Speaking of World No Tobacco Day, there’s no better time to quit.