Together we will beat cancer


If you’ve bought today’s Times newspaper you may have seen this page printed in there.

Times advert on Plain Packaging

(Click to on the image to see a bigger version)

On Monday, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley launched a three-month long public consultation on the future of tobacco packaging. What is up for discussion is whether the colourful and slickly designed tobacco packaging should be removed.

This would be replaced by packs of uniform size, shape and colour. We’d like to see large picture health warnings on the front and back. This would help reduce the appeal of tobacco and help give young people one less reason to start smoking.

100,000 people in the UK die from smoking related diseases each year. Eight out of 10 lung cancer cases are caused by smoking.

We expect opposition to this measure – the advertisement illustrates why the tobacco industry values packaging so much.

As you can see in the ad above, in their words:

“Our final communication vehicle with our smokers is the pack itself. In the absence of any other marketing messages, our packaging… is the sole communicator of our brand essence. Put another way: When you don’t have anything else, our packaging is our marketing.

For more information visit our campaign website – The Answer is Plain.



Angus July 10, 2012

The smart thing would have been to wait and see how it turns out here in Oz when plain packs come in later this year. Trust me, the counterfeiters and chopchop dealers are salivating in anticipation. Most of the action against coumterfeiters comes from the legal industry going after them for trademark infringement, and it’s not clear that this will continue. As for illegally grown chopchop tobacco, it’s always come unbranded and packaged in whatever random bags are around. They’re bound to be pleased that the legal industry is going to be forced to sell their more expensive legal baccy in plain packages as well.

Sam Heydon April 24, 2012

I don’t smoke but have only just found out that Cancer Research UK are involved in being political like this. I’ve always given genersouly to them before but I don’t think I will be able to do so in the future now I have learned this. It is NOT what I pay money to charities for, so like Richard Coates I will politely decline if asked for any donation to Cancer Research in the future.

Shame on you for involving yourself in attacking civil liberties and for god’s sake can we please stop all this persecution of smokers. It’s very unedifying to see a charity, which is meant to be all about heart and caring, put so much effort into acting cruel and dabbling in politics with money given in good faith for research.

Ivan D April 23, 2012

Are you sure it is 8 out of 10 lung cancer cases that are “caused” by smoking Paul? Your colleagues over at ASH are still claiming that it is 9 out of 10. Both numbers are likely to prove incorrect as more never smokers reach old age but why let honesty, science and ethics get in the way of righteous campaign speak?

I disagree with David Collins at a fundamental level in that it is my view that research should be used to inform and educate, not as a political tool to browbeat governments into illiberal policies. The first casualty of politicising research is the truth as the tobacco control movement has demonstrated so very well in recent years.

Away from anything related to tobacco, CRUK does carry out excellent research so I will be taking Mr Collins advice on direct funding and will be advising others to do likewise. I would rather burn any extra cash that I earn than contribute to the political wing of CRUK or its spin doctors.

David Collins April 20, 2012

I believe the ad states that it was supported by private subscription. Having said that I donate monthly to CRUK and have no problem with my donation being used for campaigning. There is little point doing any research if you can not also pursuade the decision makers (the Government) the act upon the findings. Cancer is a political issue and it’s naive to think it’s not. However for those who do not share my view but want to suport cancer research I belive gives details of i how you can donate to specific cancer research projects.

Iro Cyr April 19, 2012

Observing from across the Atlantic to see where all this madness will lead us.

From an article that appeared in the Guardian interviewing Australia’s anti-tobacco lobbyist Simon Chapman (the godfather of plain packaging in the UK)

”Although blind taste tests show that consumers detect little difference between most brands of cigarettes, the successful marketing of some brands as cool, or macho, or feminine, or “lite” has helped sustain a hierarchy in which premium brands sell for a lot more than budget lines, despite costing much the same to produce. (…)’Replace those colourful packets with nothing but a plain colour, the manufacturer’s name and a massive health warning, and many people will stop buying the premium brands, he argues.”

So what does this tell us? That plain packaging doesn’t really have anything to do with health since he himself admits elsewhere in the interview that it will not immediately curb smoking but will slowly starve the industry off. Which industry? The biggest players in the tobacco industry or what he calls the premium brands. If anyone ever succeeds in ”starving them off”, tobacco will not disappear. It will only change hands to the smaller players and contraband sources which will gradually also get big. But… It will also make premium brands more affordable since the bigger players won’t sit back and watch their market shrink, they will simply lower their prices to competitive levels. So as inadvertently admitted by Chapman, all a legislation on plain packaging would be accomplishing is to rob the bigger players of profits without doing a thing for public health and perhaps even making it worse. Is this what CRUK wants to support?

Richard Coates April 19, 2012

Dear CR UK –

I’m really sorry to see this political advertising. I fully support public health efforts to warn people of the dangers of smoking and how they can quit. This, however, is an attempt to get the Government to bring in more regulation, which are highly unlikely to have a significant effect, but will materially, diminish the freedom that people can enjoy in this country. I worry greatly about the precedent this measure would set for Government interference in other areas of our lives.

Cancer Research has always been a charity I’ve been happy to support and fundraise for in the past – but I can’t continue to do so in the future if I know that money could be used for campaigns like this. Is there some way that I can ensure that money I give to you guys in the future is only spent on research, and not lobbying? If there isn’t, are there any charities that fund cancer research you could recommend I support instead?

David Collins April 18, 2012

Its hard to see how plain packs will make counterfeiting easier. I mean it’s not that hard now is it. There are plenty of ways security measures could be incorporated into designs to deter counterfeiting. Indeed if the tobacco companies were that concerned about it they would have done something about it already

Carol Cliffe April 18, 2012

I can’t help thinking that this idea is an open invitation to counterfeiters. I don’t smoke but if I did, how would I know what quality of cigarette I was recieving.