Butt out: cigarette packs will start to switch to plain packaging from today

Iconic logos like Marlboro and Camel will struggle to gain familiarity among youth, with new neutral packaging laws coming into effect from today. 

A push to reduce cigarette smoking rates in the Netherlands, particularly among young people, has resulted in the new rules.

Now, the familiar logos will no longer bring street cred. Instead, brands may only include the brand name and brand variant on the package. Furthermore, this can only be displayed in neutral letters.

To reduce the appeal of the packs even further, Dutch regulators have made packages the muddy colour combination of mostly green and brown. Warnings and other legal regulations are plastered over the box, and a barcode and manufacturer information take up the rest of the space.

However, today only marks the start of the change period. Producers and retailers are given one year to adjust the packaging and clear old stock. Repeat offenders afterwards can be fined up to €4500.

MORE >> Smoking rate among young people remains high

Why is the government changing cigarette packaging?

The Netherlands already has strict rules that restrict branding on cigarette packages. Already, two-thirds of a package has to include warnings.

However, until today brands could still decorate the packages with their logo, attractive colours, or other text. The Dutch cabinet is concerned that this distracts from the warnings on the package, encouraging young people to make a purchase.

The Dutch government discourages smoking and wants to intervene before youth begin. Many smokers are teenagers or young adults when they start, a time when they are particularly sensitive to branding and advertising.

While only cigarettes are being targeted now, cigars and e-cigarettes are also on the radar. Rules for these products will likely take effect in 2022.

Will plain packaging be effective?

At this stage, it’s unknown if the new measures will reduce smoking rates. In 2012, Australia was the first country to introduce neutral packaging for cigarettes. However, plain packaging was introduced alongside broader measures aiming to stop smoking. That makes it difficult to tell whether it worked.

The Dutch government are an extension of measures introduced earlier this year. Smoking has been banned on school grounds, supermarkets have to hide their smoking materials, and excise duties have increased twice in the past nine months.

It’s not just the Dutch government who are discouraging inhaling carcinogenic smoke for fun. NS and ProRail also removed all of their smoking facilities as of today.

Do you think the changes the cigarette packaging in the Netherlands will help? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


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