The glamorous international advertising tactics used by tobacco companies to promote their products and capture new customers were highlighted by Stockton North’s Labour Member of Parliament to illustrate why they must be compelled to sell their products in plain packages.
In a speech in Parliament, Alex Cunningham highlighted the wording used on US websites to advertise Vogue cigarettes – a brand owned by British American Tobacco and aimed primarily at young women.
One website claims that “Vogue Cigarettes stand out among other cigarette brands for both their appearance and their unique recognisable taste … The all-white box design with a tiny coloured branch and different coloured leaves reflects the romantic essence that is Vogue Cigarettes”. A second website declares that “the Vogue Cigarette’s style was based on 1950s couture … they are cigarettes that are preferred by women from across the world … their length and appearance is an attribute of their femininity”.
“It is crass nonsense for the tobacco industry to call these cigarettes “romantic” and “feminine” when, in reality, they are addictive and deadly. Nobody but the tobacco industry benefits from such thoughtless advertising, and I should be interested to hear from any opponent of standard packaging just why they think the tobacco industry should be allowed to continue to market their products in this way.
“I was very interested today to hear the Minister’s own personal experiences of tobacco addiction and its horrendous consequences, and was particularly taken by her admission to having been attracted to cigarettes by the packaging and advertising.
“The real concern of the tobacco industry about standard packaging is, of course, that it would prevent them from marketing their products and recruiting new smokers in this way. In Stockton North, we have 610 children aged 10-14 who are already regular smokers – that probably means well over 1,000 in the Borough. The Minister has acknowledged that plain packaging will help to protect our children from the evils of smoking, confirming that this measure would not amount to a nanny state, but refused to bring in plain packages until an evaluation of the Australian scheme has been completed in several years time.”
Alex will continue to work with MPs across the Commons for the ban and hopes to help force a vote on the issue in the House of Commons within the next few months.