Warning Messages in Packages

 As a result of tight advertising and marketing prohibitions, tobacco companies look at the pack differently. They view it as a strong component in displaying brand imagery and a creating a significant in-store presence at the point of purchase.

Market testing shows the influence of this dimension in shifting the consumer's choice when the same product is displayed in an alternative package. Studies also show how companies have manipulated a variety of elements in packs designs to communicate the impression of lower in tar or milder cigarettes whereas the components were the same.

Some countries require cigarette packs to contain warnings about health hazards. The United States was the first, later followed by other countries including Canada, most of Europe, Australia, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 1985, Iceland became the first country to enforce graphic warnings on cigarette packaging. At the end of December 2010 new regulations from Ottawa increased the size of tobacco warnings to cover three quarters of the cigarette package in Canada. As of November 2010, 39 countries have adopted a similar legislation.

On February 2011, the Canadian government passed regulations requiring cigarette packs to contain twelve new images to cover 75 percent of the outside panel and eight new health messages on the inside panel with full color.

April 2011: The world's toughest laws on packages came from Australia. New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom considered similar policies. The Australian regulations require all packs to use a bland olive green, with 75 percent coverage on the front of the pack and all of the back consisting of graphic health warnings.

The only things that differentiate one brand from another are the product name in a standard color, standard position and standard font size and style. In response to these regulations Philip Morris International, Japan Tobacco Inc., British American Tobacco Plc. and Imperial Tobacco attempted to sue the Australian government. On August 15, 2012 the High Court of Australia dismissed the suit and made Australia the first country to introduce brand-free plain cigarette packaging with health warnings covering 90 percent and 70 percent of back and front packaging respectively. This took effect on December 1, 2012.