Total Product Recall for Tobacco Companies

Cancer Council Victoria is challenging the claims of large tobacco companies in Australia with “Total Product Recall”, a television commercial starring comedian John Clarke in the role of a tobacco company head honcho. The Plain Facts campaign takes a satirical look at Big Tobacco’s new-found concern for the community, and points people to a website,, featuring the facts on plain packaging and a review of all peer-reviewed research to date supporting plain packaging.

John Clarke Head Honcho Tobacco Company

“As you may know, cigarettes have been linked to cancer, addiction, emphysema, heart disease and premature death and as a result, we at my tobacco company are introducing a total product recall. All of our products will be withdrawn from sale, wherever it is in Australia, until we can guarantee that it poses absolutely no threat to your health. Because if there’s one thing we care about here, it’s your health.”

Click on the image below to play the John Clarke video in YouTube


Filming for the Recall ad was shot by director Jenni Meaney.

The Debate

The Plain Packaging campaign counters efforts by tobacco companies to build public opposition to the government’s proposed removal of brand names and designs from cigarette packaging.

British American Tobacco Assocaition Cola ad

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said if you were to believe Big Tobacco, Australia will soon be flooded by illegal crime gangs and children would be buying cigarettes off the back of a truck. “These are the desperate and bizarre ramblings of Big Tobacco in crisis. If we panicked every time the tobacco industry cried wolf we would still be exposed to second-hand smoke inside restaurants and bars and Paul Hogan would still be on television screens offering us a Winfield. This is an industry that time and time again put profit over public health and tries to block any meaningful tobacco reform in this country. Make no mistake – this is what’s happening with plain packaging.”

Ex-tobacco industry executive and marketing expert and commentator Craig Seitam, said the proposed plain packaging of cigarette will hit sales hard. “As a former insider, I can tell you that what you see on pack is everything to the tobacco industry and that’s why they are fighting so hard to keep it there. The colours, shades, fonts and texture are key to recruiting new smokers and attracting current smokers. There is no doubt in my mind that when cigarettes are in plain packs less young people will smoke, and every tobacco industry executive around the world would know this.

Mr Harper said the Plain Facts campaign would help even more Australians understand why plain packaging will make a difference. “Research shows plain packaging will reduce the appeal of cigarettes to young people, reduce deception about the harmfulness of cigarettes and increase the impact of graphic health warnings. As a country we should be doing everything we can to make a product that kills one out of two of its long term users less desirable. Tobacco is not a normal consumer product, so let’s not allow it to be packaged like one.”