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Branding Ban: Australia To Require "Universal" Faceless Cigarette Packs

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.

Anna Lietti

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

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Big Brother For The People: India's CCTV Strategy For Cracking Down On Police Abuse

"There is nothing fashionable about installing so many cameras in and outside one’s house," says a lawyer from a Muslim community. And yet, doing this has helped members of the community prove unfair police action against them.

A woman is walking in the distance while a person holds a military-style gun close up

Survellance and tight security at the Lal Chowk area in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on October 4, 2022

Sukanya Shantha

MUMBAI — When sleuths of the National Investigating Agency suddenly descended on human rights defender and school teacher Abdul Wahid Shaikh’s house on October 11, he knew exactly what he needed to do next.

He had been monitoring the three CCTVs that are installed on the front and the rear of his house — a chawl in Vikhroli, a densely populated area in suburban Mumbai. The cameras told him that a group of men and women — some dressed in Mumbai police’s uniform and a few in civil clothes — had converged outside his house. Some of them were armed and few others with batons were aggressively banging at the door asking him to immediately let them in.

This was not the first time that the police had landed at his place at 5 am.

When the policemen discovered the CCTV cameras outside his house, they began hitting it with their batons, destroying one of them mounted right over the door. This action was captured by the adjacent CCTV camera. Shaikh, holed up in his house with his wife and two children, kept pleading with the police to stop destroying his property and simply show them an official notice.

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