Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cigarettes Now Taste Different, Aussies Believe

The Daily Telegraph [Australia]
30 Nov 2012

Sue Dunlevy and Petra Starke

NOT only do they look plain but smokers are complaining that cigarettes taste worse now they are in the green packaging that becomes mandatory from tomorrow.

Advice group Quitline and Facebook fan sites have been inundated with comments saying their smokes taste "pathetic", "sickening" and lack flavour now they come in one-colour packets dominated by vivid health warnings. Tobacco companies deny changing ingredients, while pundits say the issue highlights the power of branding. […]

New York Times
10 July 2013


SYDNEY — Almost six months have passed since Australia imposed one of the world’s toughest laws for cigarette warning labels, swapping iconic packaging for graphic images of mouth ulcers, cancerous lungs and gangrenous limbs.

And though experts say it is too soon to know what impact the law has had on tobacco use, one thing is certain: Smokers think the cigarettes taste off. Complaints started to roll in about the flavor of cigarette brands almost immediately after the law went into effect on Dec. 1. That could mean a lot for health advocates’ efforts to prevent smoking.

“Of course there was no reformulation of the product,” the Australian health minister, Tanya Plibersek, said in an interview. “It was just that people being confronted with the ugly packaging made the psychological leap to disgusting taste.” […]

The taste issue comes into sharp focus at Sol Levy Tobacconist. Evelyn Platus, whose grandfather was the founding Mr. Levy, has managed the shop on a prime strip of real estate in what is now Sydney’s booming Chinatown for more than 20 years. On a recent afternoon, it was nearly empty. Her business, she said, has been hurt by high taxes and restrictive rules governing tobacco. But when it comes to plain packaging, the ire she normally reserves for the “nanny state” is pointed at Big Tobacco.

“The cigarette companies will deny it, but all of our customers are telling us the cigarettes taste different. The government’s spruiked it as a mind-over-matter thing, but I don’t believe so,” Ms. Platus said, using Australian slang for making a pitch. She said, “With all of the changes they were forced to make, there was no way to recoup their money, so the cigarette companies appear to have taken advantage of it and sourced their product from somewhere else.”

It is a common refrain among Australian smokers and is repeated on Internet forums dedicated to the issue. In some versions of the conspiracy theory, the government is responsible for changing the taste; in others, the state is accused of having colluded with the tobacco companies. […]