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Feature Public Health

From brand to bland—the demise of cigarette packaging

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 13 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4376
  1. Simon Chapman, professor,
  2. Becky Freeman, lecturer
  1. 1School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: S Chapman simon.chapman{at}

Neutering the appeal of the once glamorous cigarette package has become a powerful weapon in tobacco control’s arsenal. And Australia is about to take the boldest step of all, find Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman

Clockwise from top left: Turkish Marlboro; Brazilian packaging; graphic warnings on Australian products; the proposed shrinking of the brand logo in Australia; Player's from Canada; and health warnings on South American tobacco

Cigarette packs were the site of the world’s first tobacco control policies, when the first health warnings appeared in Britain and the United States from the mid-1960s. Tobacco companies have ever since sought to guard the integrity of the box—the “silent salesman” that is displayed to others many times each day—as their primary promotional vehicle.1 Industry has resisted every attempt to substitute bland, general cautions with explicit warnings, references to “addiction” and “kill,” and efforts to increase the size of …

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