Monday, 17 August 2015

The REAL gateway to smoking

Last week I was reading this article about the Norwegian minister of Health and his criticism of AmCham. The background was the AmCham has responded to the governments proposed introduction of plain packaging. The Cancer Society also comments on the matter:
- It is no wonder that they are lobbying against this, because we know that this measure actually works. Tobacco packages with cool design appeals for example to young people, and if you get fewer young people to start smoking, the total tobacco use goes down.
This post is not going to be about whether plain packaging works or not, but there are indications that it might not work as well as they thought it would: They argue that "Tobacco packages with cool design appeals for example to young people". So they're actually saying that people start smoking because the package looks so damn cool? Really? To me that sounds pretty far fetched. I've done some googling trying to find some statistics on why people start smoking, and I've never come across this reason. I mean, I can see that cool packaging might appeal to young, hip people, in the way that they might be tempted to try a brand with a cooler package, but I find it really hard to believe that the cool packaging is what made them start smoking. To me this whole plain packaging idea seems like something they came up due to lack of other good ideas to make sure a lot of people have a lot of work to do, without really making any difference. The only real effect I find plausible is that it would make it easier to operate in the black market since it will take less effort to make the packages for fake or smuggled cigarettes. 

Anyway, this statement from the Cancer Society made me start thinking a bit about why people start smoking, especially young people and kids. If you google the matter you'll find several "top-lists" with somewhat different reasons. You'll see reasons like parents smoking, friends smoking, peer pressure, people smoking in movies, their idols smoking, to look more adult, self-medication, stress releaf, experimenting and rebellion. Trying to sum up a bit it seems to me like the biggest reason why young people start smoking is other people smoking. Not really surprising to be honest. Young people wants to act older and wants to fit in. In other words: Smokers are the REAL gateway to smoking. I believe that you can regulate, ban, restrict advertising, make manufacturers print all kinds of ugly pictures or warnings on the packages, plain packaging, campaigns warning young people of the dangers of smoking and so on to stop young people from smoking. Some of these measures might be somewhat effective as well, but I think none of them will ever come even close to the effect of getting current smokers quit smoking. If less adults smoke, less young people and kids will start smoking. E-cigarettes and vaping has proven to be one of the most effective ways of making this happen. Regulators and politicians should welcome this opportunity rather than using all their time and effort to find harder, less effective means or even fight against what could ultimately be the end of the tobacco epidemic.

Smokers are the REAL gateway to smoking, vapers are the REAL gateway to quitting. 

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photo credit: Vaping vs. Smoking | E-Cigarette/Electronic Cigarette/E-Cigs/E-Liquid/Vaping/Cloud Chasing via photopin (license)


  1. This might be a study of interest: The association between peer, parental influence and tobacco product features and earlier age of onset of regular smoking among adults in 27 European countries. Published March 30, 2015 in The European Journal Of Public Health :

    Results ? "No significant association between design and marketing features of tobacco products and an early initiation of regular smoking was observed"

  2. You say" So they're actually saying that people start smoking because the package looks so damn cool? Really? To me that sounds pretty far fetched." I couldn't agree more! Kids like to do what they do because of their peers doing it. Come on people. really...

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