Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Nothing’s Sacred

Plain cigarette packets could reduce nicotine addiction

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 15 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3105
  1. Colin Brewer, writer, researcher, and former psychiatrist, London
  1. brewerismo{at}

The government has apparently capitulated to big tobacco’s recent advertising campaign about “hard evidence” for enforcing plain cigarette packaging. Although plain packaging may reinforce health warnings, arguably the most important warning—that because of nicotine, cigarette smoking is likely to become a physical addiction as well as a behavioural habit—is still optional in Britain. By downplaying addiction both big tobacco and the government effectively tell vulnerable adolescents that becoming addicted to a drug doesn’t really matter. Only about a fifth of regular smokers smoke 10 a day or fewer. In contrast, hardly …

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