Alliance of Australian Retailers is running an advertising campaign against the federal government's planned introduction for plain packaging of cigarettes in 2012. These advertisements claim that contrary to the government's reasoning, these reforms will do nothing to deter consumers from smoking, and the added regulation will only hurt tobacco retailers. My blood boils every time I hear these advertisements, and I wish that the radio stations involved refused to run them. It's a good thing there's nobody else around to see me blow my stack. My bad side is a dangerous place to be. Actually, that's overstating things. I usually groan and say to myself, "Not this again."
Look up the Alliance's website and you'll see that this campaign, while encompassing several small retailer umbrella groups, is actually being financed by three large multinational tobacco companies. This raises the question of the motives for this campaign. Are these companies more concerned about the possible impact on their profits than they are about the questionable effects on the small retailers they claim to represent? Also, why are they trying to pass this off as a grassroots campaign when it actually isn't? Then again, tobacco companies have never felt the need to deal with the public honestly.
Those of you who know me personally would readily attest that I'm usually a fairly easy going if somewhat reserved chap. There aren't too many things in the world that I hate. Having said that, I passionately hate smoking. I remember vowing as a teenager that I would never try smoking, and despite some peer pressure, I kept my word. Seeing some of my loved ones suffer and in some cases die of smoking related illnesses saw to that. While I'm not an economist, if these reforms are successfully implemented, and I hope they are, my guess is that their impact would be minuscule compared to the estimated $31 billion cost to the Australian economy of smoking. Rather than try to mislead the public, the tobacco industry should grow a backbone and be made to pay for the immense costs of its products.