Can Removing Cigarette Branding Encourage Better Health?

Posted: March 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

One graphic design firm in the U.K. tries its hand at non-design in the name of public health.

Branding is everywhere from the drug industry to the tobacco industry regardless of unhealthy impacts of products. Most probably you all hear about anti-smoking crusaders who shout slogans “that’s a public health problem”. The U.K. seems giving an ear to these crusaders by coming up a policy suggestion against this problem. Now, the U.K. might adopt a policy that would ask cigarette companies to remove their sexy packaging in favor of plain-jane design. The aim is to stamp out smoking’s appeal, once and for all.

Icon Magazine enlisted the aid of London graphic design firm ‘Build Graphic Design’ to reimagine cigarette packets without their iconic branding. “We chose to approach the design almost from a non-design perspective,” Build writes on its blog. They accomplished this by “Stripping out any superfluous design elements and taking it down to an ultra-’generic’ feel.”

The reason why they resort to a non-design perspective is very obvious. They believe that removing recognizable cigarette branding in favor of center staging the health risks might discourage people from smoking.

Three packet designs were devised, each one choosing to display the health hazards in a different way. Also, each one is done up in OCR-B, the generic monospace typeface you see in UPC codes, and little splashes of color. One chooses the option of compiling a recipe list all chemicals contained in cigarettes, the idea being: “Food packaging now has to list its contents by law – why should cigarettes be any different?”

Another gives the box over to frightening warning labels: “Smoking these 20 Marlboro Reds will reduce your life expectancy by 3 hrs: 40 mins (11 mins per cigarette)” or “Smoking kills” repeated over and over again. The third is a study in minimalism, conveying basic information in tiny type. Each cigarette packet also contains a QR code which links to the government website on the health hazards of smoking and how to quit.

The research says that the most effective way to dissuade young people from smoking is to convince them that it isn’t cool (usually through their friends). And that’s where Build runs into problems. Because the packs, newly designed, do the exact thing they’re not supposed to do. Although they may discourage people’s tendency to select one brand over another, it seems that they won’t discourage smoking as a whole.

One commenter wrote on Build’s blog: “I don’t know what it is, but cig­a­rette pack­ag­ing seems to look good no mat­ter what you do to it.” Instead of just changing the design, the U.K. should consider more drastic tack which will be able to eradicate smoking.

  1. Smoker says:

    well, actually these boxes look really cool.

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