It seems there’s no better talking point than a talking pack.
A cigarette story lit up the global media with excitement this week, thanks to ASH Scotland.
Little did we know what we were starting when we highlighted a novel idea discussed at our 40th anniversary conference last month – talking cigarette packets.
The technology, similar to greetings cards that play music, involves short messages that give advice on the dangers of smoking and how to quit.
The presentation, by Stirling University’s experts in cigarette packaging, interested Scotland on Sunday when we told them about it.
By Monday, the news had the ear of a large chunk of the world. They were all talking talking packs.
A Daily Mirror report, among others, led the US, Canada, India, New Zealand and Brazil to highlight the idea. The BBC wanted to know more from us and their online article led to a call from a Portuguese news website, which was hungry for information.
The giant Mail Online site also ran a lengthy piece for its six million daily readers to enjoy.
Our Chief Executive, Sheila Duffy, gave her own audio message on BBC Radio Scotland’s Call Kaye as she discussed the inventive move to turn packaging into a chatty promoter of good health.
The talking packs – along with other ideas such as inserts with warnings and writing “smoking kills” on cigarettes – are notions for novel packaging that the researchers at Stirling’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research have come up with.
Who knows if their prototype packet will ever become something that finds its way to the tobacco counter?
But the research, which asked young women smokers their views on the idea, highlights the important marketing power of packaging.
That’s why we and others are urging the Scottish Government to act as soon as possible on their commitment to bring in plain, standardised cigarette packaging, devoid of glossy and attractive designs.
The tobacco industry buys a great deal of creative expertise to market its addictive and lethal products to new consumers, mainly young people.
So we certainly welcome the suggestion that we get more creative to put forward messages of good health and freedom from addiction as alternatives to tobacco.
We should start requiring tobacco companies to present the truth to their consumers in ways that are more eye-catching.
Or, like talking packs, more ear-catching.