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Plain packaging: The story of 'Bryan - Aged 34'

Posted by: Nick McCallum | 19 December, 2012 - 4:04 PM
Bryan - Aged 34

NICK MCCALLUM: They’re offensive, heartbreaking, shocking, appalling and make you physically sick. But they are entirely appropriate.

They’re new warnings on Australian cigarette packets that picture a handsome, perfectly healthy 33-year-old Bryan Curtis in one corner and then the main picture is Bryan just 10 weeks later, a skelton, unconscious, on death’s door.

The photos are haunting...the story behind them even more so...

Bryan was an American mechanic and tradesman, a victim of lung cancer after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

When he was dying in 1999, Bryan asked his family to get his story out there as a warning to others.

So these pictures were taken just hours before he died and published in a Florida newspaper.

And now 13-years-later they’ve made it all the way here to our cigarettes packets.

It’s reported in Thehe Age smokers are now asking sellers to exchange packets when they receive one with these photos on them.

They’re disgusted, they’re revolted, they can’t cope. Good!

It’s a sad legacy for poor Bryan but just the legacy he wanted.

I’m not a smoker, never have been, but I can’t imagine how anyone could take a cigarette out of a packet featuring Bryan’s two pictures and smoke it. You just couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t contact Bryan Curtis’s family in America so I recorded this interview with Sue Landry the journalist with the 'St Petersburg Times' tell Bryan’s story all those years ago.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH SUE LANDRY BELOW

For more details on the story of Bryan read Rachel Well's article in the Age.

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LISTEN: Journalist Sue Landry speaks with Nick McCallum

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Rubble rubble rubble

    Double happy dragon Sunday 7 April, 2013 - 1:36 PM
  • Hi I smoke and have wanted to stop for many years and have failed many times "I think If the pics prevent just some people starting then its worth them being on packs"

    Adrian Friday 5 April, 2013 - 4:40 PM
  • My father was born in 1928 and started smoking when he was a teen. He swears that even back then they called them "cancer sticks". Smokers crying and complaining now that they "didn't know how dangerous cigarettes were" are simply lying. You knew. You took the risk. You knew the consequences. You're responsible for the decision you made to smoke - stop blaming others for your idiocy.

    Peter Hillster Thursday 4 April, 2013 - 5:03 PM
  • Jedly, Why don't you tell us how much tax is collected from cigarette sales? Then tell us how much smokers cost us in sick days, loss of productivity, and tax to keep hospitals running.

    Peter Jeffries Friday 29 March, 2013 - 11:59 AM
  • Well, I couldn't stand looking at what eventually (and very quickly) became of Brian. I've not smoked now for 6 weeks. So if his aim was to "hopefully" prevent others being affected by what smoking can do, he got his message through to me.

    Nicole Monday 11 March, 2013 - 5:26 PM
  • Interestingly enough, I just heard tell that this man did not die of lung cancer at all, but of AIDS.

    I am quite sick of the government telling me what I can and cant do, what will cause cancer and what wont. Frankly, the negativity presented by a packet of cigarette is appalling, especially when there are people who have been smoking their whole life and dodge cancer till the day they die of natural causes.
    Smoking does not cause cancer, I will agree that it does not help your chances though.
    Mind you, what I really want to know is, if we were paying through the nose already because of branding, why are we now not paying less for plain packaging?

    Paul Monday 4 February, 2013 - 9:51 AM

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