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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Smoking Thrills!

British smokers are refusing to lie down and die of nagging. The European Union directive requiring that cigarette packets be used as a means of harassing smokers with loud offensive messages like SMOKING KILLS!, YOU WILL DIE! NOW! and the more succinct and efficient FUCK OFF!!! Is soon to be superseded with graphic pictures of diseased organs which will by law have to cover at least 150% of the surface area of the packaging.

Yet good old British creative thinking is successfully combating this ludicrous and patronising nonsense. People have noticed that cigarettes can actually be removed from their packaging and placed in other receptacles, perfectly legally- and that it is still within the law to cover one’s cigarette box with a piece of brightly-coloured fabric! And a whole new market in old-fashioned silver cigarette boxes, and new-style box-covers, has opened up and is blossoming in the UK. What a good idea, and recyclable hence money-saving too, so surely an improvement even on those clever ironic stickers for covering up the offensive messages which were featured in a blog here some time ago. Go capitalism!

It almost makes me want to take up smoking again, just for the pretty cases. If only the things didn’t give one cancer.

(Cue Samizdata blog predicting inevitable future EU plans forcing smokers to hold unmodified and unadorned officially-approved packets up for inspection by the police on demand…)

25 comments to Smoking Thrills!

  • Brian Micklethwait


    I haven’t actually read this posting yet, but it’s great to see you back here. Keep it coming, please.

    The Optimism Party needs you. (I’ve read it now.)

    Alright David Carr, off you go.

  • Perhaps the design of particularly elegant 2003-style ciggie cases might be a marketing opportunity for the right person,

  • Charles Copeland

    I read the article on-line this morning and said to myself: one of you Samizdata lot will enlighten the rest of us. Congrats.

    My only objection to the ST article was the title:

    “Film star glamour of cigarette cases hides truth for smokers

    An improved version:

    “Film star glamour of cigarette cases pisses off the health fascists who will now probably try to make it illegal to use cigarette cases by promoting the adoption of a European Directive to that effect.

  • Brian Micklethwait

    From Alice’s Blog after posting here:

    “I finally posted on Samizdata again. And I like the first comment 🙂 But if other people write mean, personally-attacking, hostile criticisms, which I frankly don’t like or need, then I have to say I won’t be inspired to keep it up. Especially if it includes patronising “you silly little girl” -ish stuff. Sorry if that’s grumpy. I can be very grumpy sometimes. You might have noticed.”

    So if we want Alice to keep on posting here, we must be nice. Seems fair to me.

  • Charles Copeland

    Who on earth wasn’t nice to Alice?

    I thought her posting was great and said so. So where are the “mean, personally-attacking, hostile criticisms” Alice refers to? Unless Alice thought my comments were meant to be sarcastic, which they certainly weren’t.

  • Rob read

    totally off topic but neal stephenson is signing copies of his new book next tuesday(14th) at borders bookshop on oxford street.

  • S. Weasel

    Well, if nobody else wants the job, I’ll volunteer to be not-nice to Alice. Anything to oblige.

  • Alice, Brian et al,

    David Carr thinks that this is a glorious post and it has made him smile.

    Besides, he has the flu and hence no energy to rant with.

  • Tony H

    It’s a nice post. But I gave up smoking at Christmas 1980, so I’m a bit behind with cigarette packet design. I’m fascinated: where are these packs with “Fuck Off!” on them? Please tell me the brand, someone, and I’ll buy a pack tomorrow – purely for display, you understand.

  • No, I don’t think they’ll issue a directive forbidding cigarette boxes. That’s not the way they work – yet. What I will expect to see is a campaign of propaganda and mockery against people who use cigarette boxes. In TV comedy the bad guys (I don’t mean the suave villains, I mean the stupid ugly bad guys) will be portrayed as having them. Columnists in the newspapers will sneer at people who “don’t even have the guts to be honest about what they are doing to themselves.” No order for this campaign will be given – people in the know will just understand what is required of them, just as they knew that it was no longer permissible to have a good or intelligent character who smokes in modern TV drama.

    I don’t mean to utterly spoil the optimistic mood. This campaign will happen, but there is a countervailing force. People are getting sick of being bullied. The fact that every comment I have heard about those stick-on funny labels, even from those who hate the smell of smoke and/or libertarian ideas, has been along the lines of “you can’t help admiring their cheek” is very interesting.

    Incidentally, at some point in this screed I ought to say that I do think smoking is bad for you, even if done stylishly. Why the powers that be can’t be satisfied with conveying this simple message I don’t know. Well, I do have some idea. Bullies.

  • Tony H,

    It’s not packets, it’s stickers.

    This report tells you about them.

  • Charles,

    Nobody has written any dumb nasty criticisms on this piece, but it has happened in the past and put me off posting for Samizdata (I also write on various other blogs). Not that I have a right to dictate what people should say- but I do have a right to post where I enjoy it the most.

    Although maybe everyone will get over-polite now I said that, and only ever say nice things to me from now on, which would be terrible (erm, not!)…

  • cj

    Coming soon to a theater near you….

    Warning labels on the cigarettes themselves!

  • Tony H

    No Natalie, the post by Alice unambiguously refers to “EU directive…cigarette packets with loud offensive messages like…FUCK OFF!” and I want to know what spasm of plain speaking – or subversive EU-employed mole – has brought this about, and what brand it’s on so I can buy some…

  • Alice Bachini


    That was an exaggeratory joke… or maybe you knew that and were joking too…

  • Verity

    Thank you, Natalie Solent, for a very astute post. Yes, the apparachiks will know what to do. People with cigarette cases will be portrayed as pathetic losers rather than stylish and rebellious. There will be reported mishaps involving cigarette cases. The lesson, as Natalie implied, will be, do not have the impertinence to go against our official thinking.

    I hope she is also correct in perceiving a countervailing force. People are indeed getting sick of being bullied, but I’m not sure how many people have the stomach to fight this increasingly authoritarian government.

  • Chuck the Obscure

    Tony was in fact correct about the f-word. Here is a complete list of the additional warnings (as copied from Annex I to Directive 2001/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2001 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products) – over and above the two general warnings “Smoking kills/Smoking can kill” and “Smoking seriously harms you and others around you.”:

    1. Smokers die younger.
    2. Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes.
    3. Smoking causes fatal lung cancer.
    4. Smoking when pregnant harms your baby.
    5. Protect children: don’t make them breathe your smoke.
    6. Your doctor or your pharmacist can help you stop smoking.
    7. Smoking is highly addictive, don’t start.
    8. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of fatal heart and lung diseases.
    9. Smoking can cause a slow and painful death.
    10. Get help to stop smoking: (telephone/postal address/internet address/consult your doctor/pharmacist).
    11. Smoking may reduce the blood flow and causes impotence.
    12. Smoking causes ageing of the skin.
    13. Smoking can damage the sperm and decreases fertility.
    14. Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.
    15. Fuck off and die you fucking assholes who smoke.

    Note that these additional warnings must “be rotated in such a way as to guarantee their regular appearance.”

    Well, OK, I invented number 15.

  • speedwell

    Just a thought… Nonsmokers can support cig boxes too! These cases and the similar items can be used for other, non-smoking-related uses. They look like the perfect size to hold and carry small items in a purse, playing cards, office supplies, notepaper (you can imagine the state of MY purse)….

  • Tony H

    Yes Alice, natch I was joking too…sigh…but I liked the idea a lot. Even better would be a health warning on all ballot papers to the effect that politicians can seriously damage your health, wealth and sanity.
    Actually, and especially given the interesting catalogue of doom provided from Mordor/Strasbourg by Chuck/Charles, it would seem reasonable to expect draconian penalties as well as dire warnings in connection with the deadly weed: smoking kills & disables vastly more people in the UK than do firearms, for example, but just look at the enormous apparatus of legislation & enforcement set up to deal with crypto-psychopaths like me who own guns…

  • Tatyana

    A variation on the main theme:
    Last Xmas vacation I went to Mt. Tremblan near Montreal. Local village grocery shop didn’t have my usual Virginia Slims Lights, instead they recommended local brand, forgot the name, which package consisted of huge picture of crying baby with warning message in 2 languages in red.
    Got it?
    Now is the fun part: the package was double, because, as I was told, single packages are not available!

  • Ed


    What I’d like to see is someone take that requirement and really run with it. Perhaps make a brand of cigarettes called “Big Ass Tumors”. 🙂

    As for the death and smoking thing. Let’s face facts here. Death and illness is determined more by genetics and happenstance than by any real concious decisions made. You can eat right, exercise and do every last thing, which often changes, that scientists say are good, and you still might die of pancreatic cancer at age 32. You can be healthy as hell and happily engaged and then die of DVT from a trans-Pacific plane flight.

    Shit happens and all you can do is enjoy life while you can. Otherwise please explain why Jim Fix died while jogging and why so many 100+ year old people seem to be heavy smokers. You’d think, considering all the cigars he smoked, that George Burns would have died from the secondhand smoke alone.

    Light’em if you got’em. What the hell. The next time you cross a street, there’s a BMW with your ass on it.


  • cheshirecat

    What I’d like to see is someone take that requirement and really run with it. Perhaps make a brand of cigarettes called “Big Ass Tumors”. 🙂

    Well, someone has, sort of:



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  • I dont think smokers need anymore subliminal messaging to let them know that smoking is bad for them…do you?

  • I quit smoking. I smoked 60 cigarettes a day at my peak. I started smoking regularly since when I was about 14 years old. After over 35 years I suddenly decided to quit.

    Was it easy? YES!

    I managed to quit smoking because “my urge to give up was greater than my urge to smoke!” Imagine lighting up a cigarette as soon as you wake up, then another as you have a cuppa, then yet another as go to the loo, and yet another after you brush your teeth, another after breakfast … and then your day has just begun! I always had time to smoke, no matter what, no matter when. Until I finally dropped off to sleep in the night(after a couple of valiums)… 4 hours sleep and then it began all over again …. I had to smoke….

    I was brainwashed (subconsciously) that quitting was difficult. People talked about ‘will-power’, something I was quite certain I did not posess. Then the more professional contribution on the subject came from so called scientific research- “nicotine dependance” they termed it. Scary stuff really. I read articles about how the blood begins to depend on certain levels of nicotine. Hence, the suggestion that you should use nicotine ‘patches’ and ‘gums’.

    The psychological ‘fear factor’ was tremendous. Will I succeed? Will I survive? How will I feel? Is it really worth the trouble?

    Anyway, I decided to QUIT. Nothing happened – NO PHYSICAL WITHDRWAL SYMPTOMS. I had this great fear of NOT BEING ABLE TO QUIT… But I think the URGE TO QUIT was far greater. Day ONE was not too bad, in fact it was quite normal. I kept remembering the fact that I “cannot smoke today!” This remebrance was at times irritating. Day TWO, Day THREE and so on … finally I realized that the memory had faded substantially. There was NO REAL CRAVING. In fact the so called “CRAVING” that is so publicised is NOT TRUE. There is NO BIOLOGICAL CRAVING… just the fear that you may fail!

    Now, it’s nearly TWO YEARS. I am smoke-free. I feel good. No feeling of DEPENDANCE. I am FREE! I am not a SLAVE of HABIT. I have more energy. I have better concentration. I never feel restless. I have less EXPENSES TOO!