Neutral cigarette packaging has been introduced in France on January 1st 2017. The plan was that, with their gruesome images and absence of logo, they would be an essential tool to reduce smoking rates. Unfortunately, this strategy has failed. In March only, 4 billion cigarettes were sold in France, representing a 4.5% increase when compared with 2016.
The Ministry of Health has indicated that the neutral packaging ‘aims at changing the image of tobacco products [..] its impact on consumption will only be witnessed on the medium or long term’. However, sales remain high. Customers seem actually to get used to these images. And they are not even using cigarette cases to hide them anymore.
And tobacconists are not even happy with this retained consumption. Retailers have trouble making the difference between the references and shelving is a nightmare. Cigarette manufacturers are still opposing the neutral packaging: without any logo, it’s really hard to stand up from the competition.
Neutral cigarette packaging: a controversial tool
Plain packs are definitely not uncontroversial. They aren’t the miracle-worker everyone was hoping for. Smoking remains high in France where, according to Tabac Info Service, a third of people aged 15 to 85 (32%) smoke at least once in a while.