Starting later this year, all cigarettes sold in Australia must be packaged in absolutely identical greenish packets. Ciggies without a brand? Some say it could quietly kill the pleasure.
In hindsight, we look back at the camels and pyramids on Camel cigarette packets (just looking I said, no need to send in the army) and find it quite surprising that Egypt has never thought of demanding a 1% cut on all cigarettes sold. And the traveling community: What are they waiting for to launch a protest against the misuse of the gypsy image?
The Australian government, at any rate, doesn't intend to let kangaroos bounce unpunished across French packets of Winfield cigarettes; they won't allow their national symbol to be associated with the deadly product.
When it comes to the war on tobacco, Australia is the place to be. 2012 is going to be a good year for this country down-under, which is testing out the smoke-free world of tomorrow. The new law, which will come into force in December, offers a new outlook likely to change the face of modernity: Cigarettes of all brands will be sold in identical green-grey packets (which will obviously be covered with sweeping assertions about your imminent death).
I contemplate this new perspective with fascinated curiosity. Cigarettes without a brand? That's as unthinkable as a roast dinner without its smell. I am reminded of my 20-year-old self, dithering over two brands like they were dresses: Gauloise or Gitane? Which one suits me best? And then, unexpectedly, I discovered a third brand that was destined to mark me out as someone special. It was so effective that even now people say to me in a slightly dreamy way: "I remember you: you used to smoke Craven As!"
Of course, all that had nothing to do with the actual taste of the cigarettes. Not even a little bit? Less than you would imagine. An expert in the field explained to me that in blind tests, most people not only don't recognize their favorite brand, but they can't even distinguish between light and dark tobacco.
It is all about the brand and nothing to with the quality of the product, cigarette or not. That is a basic law of the consumer society. This is why the Australians, with their identical packets of cigarettes, are going to offer the world a completely new experience.
In kangaroo-land, cigarette buyers are going to find themselves faced with a wall of almost indistinguishable packets. For older shoppers who travelled before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this will surely remind them of the dreary appearance of the shops in East Berlin or Moscow. But with just one difference: Hidden behind the identical packaging, there will be a multitude of (supposedly) different products. To tell one from another, all buyers will have left is the product name and a memory of what the brand once evoked, a memory which will soon become blurred.
We will therefore have buyers who, deprived of the brand's imagery, will be forced into making their choice based solely on the product itself: Something we have never seen since the creation of the consumer society. How will they react? Will they surprise themselves and hate the ones they thought they loved to the downfall of the market leaders? Or will they find that, disappointingly, all cigs taste the same?
I imagine that the (very few) smokers who read this article won't believe the blind testing anecdote. And yet the same thing happens with beer tasting.
But it goes without saying that for cigarette makers, the experience will be very useful.
Read the original article in French
Photo - furuikeya