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Tobacco industry persuades people to support plain packaging of cigarettes

Sunday 27 March, 2011

A major tobacco-industry funded advertising blitz has backfired, with new research revealing the "It won't work, so why do it" campaign persuaded more people to support the plain packaging of cigarettes than oppose it.

The Cancer Council Victoria survey of 2,101 Victorians who recalled the ad campaign found:

  • More than eight out of ten (86.2%) respondents said the ad didn't affect their view of plain packaging
    8.4% of respondents said the ad actually increased their support of plain packaging
    Only 3.9% of respondents felt the ad reduced their support of plain packaging


  • Just over half of those surveyed (56.5%) recognised the ads, under the moniker of the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers', were funded by the tobacco industry.

Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said the study showed the public wasn't falling for the industry's dirty tricks.

"The fact that more people actually supported plain packaging after seeing an ad that was meant to turn them against it really shows how laughable this multi-million dollar campaign is."

"The public isn't buying it. Plain packaging will not cause mass job losses or make the jobs of retailers incredibly hard. Research shows plain packaging will stop young people taking up smoking. That's why it's being implemented and has the industry running scared."

Ms Sharkie said although the public wasn't falling for the ads, it was concerning that just over half of respondents knew the ads were funded by the tobacco industry.

"Alarmingly it's only a small majority of people who know who's behind this campaign, and that's exactly what the tobacco-industry wants. It knows people don't trust it, but hope it will trust this sham front group the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers'," Ms Sharkie said.

"It's vital more Australians realise who's orchestrating this campaign: it's not shopkeepers, but big tobacco putting profits over saving lives."

The ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers' campaign was first run in August last year, and is currently running on radio and in newspapers.

Find out the facts about plain packaging of cigarettes, including a summary of research evidence.