Lismore Tobbacconist Employee Adam Button with the new plain packaging of cigarettes. Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star
Lismore Tobbacconist Employee Adam Button with the new plain packaging of cigarettes. Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star DOUG EATON

Do horrific images stop people smoking?

IS THE government's attempt to stop people smoking by putting horrific images on cigarette packets working?

Generic cigarette packaging officially came into effect on December 1, but according to Adam Button from Free Choice Tobacco in Lismore, people are buying more tobacco and tobacco-related products than ever.

"Sales definitely haven't dropped; we're busier," he said.

"We're selling more ad-on products like tins and pouches. That's how people are combating (the packaging)."

He admitted many smokers are keen to avoid packets with particular images on them, such as a picture of a man, Brian, 34, who is in a hospital bed, dying of lung cancer.

Other images of a gangrene foot and a person with mouth disease were also unpopular, Mr Button said.

"Brian and the mouth seem to be the worst of all. People love the ashtray picture," he said.

While puffing on a cigarette in Lismore's CBD on Saturday, local resident Bodie Thompson agreed that the picture of Brian was not pleasant but added it would not stop him smoking.

"Some people don't smoke a cigarette in their lives and die of cancer and then I've got a pop who's 94 and still smokes a packet a day," he said.

Mr Thompson's friend, Caitlin Leadbeatter, who was also smoking a cigarette on Saturday, believed the packaging would stop young people taking up the habit because it would not be perceived as "trendy" anymore.

Cigarette companies are only allowed to use a generic font to print their name and the type of cigarette on packets.

According to Mr Button, less young people were buying cigarettes than in previous years and he said some parents even liked the packets because the images had turned their kids off of taking up the habit.

The Federal Government's tobacco tax, which was enacted in 2007, and recent plain packaging measures aim to reduce the rate of Australian smokers from 16.6% to less than 10% by 2018.

Each year more than 18,000 Australians die prematurely because of smoking - that's 50 a day.

Smoking kills more people in Australia than the total number killed by drink, drugs, murder, suicide, road crashes, rail crashes, air crashes, poisoning, drowning, fires, falls, lightning, electrocution, snakes, spiders and sharks.



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