Australia is the only country in the world to require tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. It was a long, hard road for the Labor Party but they fought the mighty tobacco industry and won and all cigarettes on sale since the 1st of December carry a shocking picture of someone dying from a terrible disease caused by smoking cigarettes.
I saw a picture of Bryan Curtis for the first time on the weekend at a Christmas function. There was one lone smoker among a group of ex smokers and the pack was passed around. It wasn't a pretty sight, poor Bryan looked to be already dead, but the interesting thing was that the group agreed that his image wouldn't stop people from smoking.
There are seven different images, but Bryan's picture is the one smokers don't want to look at. When they buy a packet of cigarettes with his picture on it, some hand it back and ask for another one.
So who is Bryan Curtis? The Department of Health will only say that he is a US citizen who died of lung cancer and was keen to spread the word that smoking kills. The Department entered into a confidential agreement with his family to use his picture. He was a construction worker and smoked 2 packs of Marlboro Reds for 20 years until he died, aged 34.
A Gold Coast company called Boxwrap is now selling stickers to hide those gruesome images. The General Manager said "We're in business to make money but essentially, I think it's important for Australians to have freedom of choice."
Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said "We are hearing a lot of avoidance behaviours but that doesn't mean they're not working.....the fact that people go to the trouble to not see it is a very positive thing from our perspective."