The South Korean government tried to scare people into quitting smoking - but it started a fashion trend

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

We all know that smoking is bad for our health; it rots your lungs, gives you cancer, and can even damage fertility. Every year, five million people die as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. And yet, across the world more than a billion of us globally still have a weakness for the cancer sticks, chugging away to get us through the working day or alongside a cold beer on a Friday night.

So it's completely understandable that governments around the world have plowed big budgets into campaigns aimed at getting people to kick the habit, with some countries seeing more success than others. But when the South Korean government launched an initiative to get people to kick the habit - putting gnarly warnings directly onto the packets - they probably thought they were onto a winner. After all, what could go wrong? It's worked pretty well in Europe, and if even one person quit and saved themselves from wheezy lungs, then that is a victory in itself, surely?

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/BgXnn9hhkBX/]]

Well, unfortunately, the move has had almost the opposite effect. Because while you would think we were well past the age of smoking being cool, their efforts to put people off actually created a new fashion trend: cigarette cases. No, not the classic, 1950s glamour boxes designed to hold individual cigarettes, but colorful cases that you literally slip over your image-adorned box, precisely so that you don't have to look at the warning.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Korean consumers have been more creative in adapting to the warnings than European smokers were - after all, Korean fashion is pretty much ruling the world right now. And with options ranging from the poop emoji to cartoon characters to knock-offs of high-end luxury brands or simple colors, it seems there really is something for everyone. "For younger people, these cigarette cases have become a reactive trend," one shop owner in Seoul's fashionable university district of Hongdae told Mic.com.

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/BgXoLT4hjo_/?tagged=cigarettecase]]

These images aren't the first time that the South Korean government has tried to crack down on smoking, however. In 2015,  it raised the minimum price for a packet of smokes, banned advertising in convenience stores and invested money into anti-smoking programmes. However, the rates are still extremely high compared to other developed nations; at present, it is believed that 40 per cent of adult men still smoke (compared to around 17 per cent in the US). Fortunately, it is still considered a complex social issue by authorities, rather than a nasty habit.

Whether you think this is just another example of smokers not wishing to face the facts, or actually a kind of cool way to deal with something that, let's be honest, none of us really want to look at, is up to you. But no colorful packet is really going to change the reality that, aside from all the nasty health stuff, a lifetime of smoking is going to yellow your teeth, grey your skin and wrinkle your face - making you look way less cool in the long run.

The South Korean government tried to scare people into quitting smoking - but it started a fashion trend

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

We all know that smoking is bad for our health; it rots your lungs, gives you cancer, and can even damage fertility. Every year, five million people die as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. And yet, across the world more than a billion of us globally still have a weakness for the cancer sticks, chugging away to get us through the working day or alongside a cold beer on a Friday night.

So it's completely understandable that governments around the world have plowed big budgets into campaigns aimed at getting people to kick the habit, with some countries seeing more success than others. But when the South Korean government launched an initiative to get people to kick the habit - putting gnarly warnings directly onto the packets - they probably thought they were onto a winner. After all, what could go wrong? It's worked pretty well in Europe, and if even one person quit and saved themselves from wheezy lungs, then that is a victory in itself, surely?

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/BgXnn9hhkBX/]]

Well, unfortunately, the move has had almost the opposite effect. Because while you would think we were well past the age of smoking being cool, their efforts to put people off actually created a new fashion trend: cigarette cases. No, not the classic, 1950s glamour boxes designed to hold individual cigarettes, but colorful cases that you literally slip over your image-adorned box, precisely so that you don't have to look at the warning.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Korean consumers have been more creative in adapting to the warnings than European smokers were - after all, Korean fashion is pretty much ruling the world right now. And with options ranging from the poop emoji to cartoon characters to knock-offs of high-end luxury brands or simple colors, it seems there really is something for everyone. "For younger people, these cigarette cases have become a reactive trend," one shop owner in Seoul's fashionable university district of Hongdae told Mic.com.

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/BgXoLT4hjo_/?tagged=cigarettecase]]

These images aren't the first time that the South Korean government has tried to crack down on smoking, however. In 2015,  it raised the minimum price for a packet of smokes, banned advertising in convenience stores and invested money into anti-smoking programmes. However, the rates are still extremely high compared to other developed nations; at present, it is believed that 40 per cent of adult men still smoke (compared to around 17 per cent in the US). Fortunately, it is still considered a complex social issue by authorities, rather than a nasty habit.

Whether you think this is just another example of smokers not wishing to face the facts, or actually a kind of cool way to deal with something that, let's be honest, none of us really want to look at, is up to you. But no colorful packet is really going to change the reality that, aside from all the nasty health stuff, a lifetime of smoking is going to yellow your teeth, grey your skin and wrinkle your face - making you look way less cool in the long run.