Will plain packaging deter student smokers?

DCU students don’t believe the change to cigarette packaging will make much of a difference to Irish smoking habits.  

Ireland isn’t the first country to implement unbranded cigarette packaging in order to deter people from smoking, following Australia, France and more recently the UK’s lead.

However, the law that came into effect in France in January of this year has actually seen a spike in the sales of cigarettes in comparison to last year.

In March alone the French bought over four million packets of cigarettes, which is up four per cent in the same month of last year when branded cigarettes were still allowed according to the country’s customs office.

A French Engineering student on Erasmus in DCU, Quentin Lemerle said that he thinks it won’t have an effect on smokers who are already dependent and that price is more of a deterrent for these people.

“For people that are thinking of taking up smoking I do think the packaging has a part to play,” he said. “I think that people are less likely to start smoking with this kind of plain packaging.”


“I don’t think the packaging makes any difference,” said Marie Murphy, global business student in DCU. “I think that the price of them is far better at deterring smokers, especially students who are less likely to be able to afford them anyway, regardless of packaging.”

The more long-term effects of this law are starting to be seen in Australia who introduced unbranded cigarettes back in 2011. Since then, the percentage of daily smokers has decreased from 16 per cent to 14 per cent in 2014. However, they have the most expensive cigarettes in the world there at 35 AUS (€23) a pack, a potential contributing factor.

The law to have plain cigarette packaging means that all packets will now be the same colour with a larger health warning on the front. The names of the brands will be all be in the same font in white on the front and on the bottom . This law came into effect on September 30th.

Elsa McEvoy