Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 9:17AM
The European Union is proposing a full-scale ban on branded cigarettes, which would force tobacco companies across the continent to sell their products in generic, plain packaging. Under the new rules, packs would carry nothing more than a health warning and the name of the brand, both in a standardized format with a specified typeface. Cigarette advertising was outlawed across Europe in 2003. If enacted, the ban would kick another leg out from under tobacco companies' already wobbly brand visibility. Public health initiative or police state tactic?Hmm, that's a tough one. Free marketers would argue that as long as a product is legal, promotion is at the discretion of the corporation. Recovering smokers (and perhaps young people who have not yet fallen victim to the addictive powers of smoking) might counter: Out of sight, out of mind, thank you.