Tobacco companies are warning other companies what’s coming down the track:
MT popped along to the unimaginatively-titled International Food & Drink Event this week, a giant trade fair at London’s ExCel, where supermarket buyers trawl for the next big thing in FMCG. Among the cheese makers, brewers and olive oil bottlers was a less likely exhibitor: Japan Tobacco International.
Of course tobacco is technically a fast-moving consumer good, but the maker of Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, one of the ‘Big Five’ tobacco firms (along with Altria, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Philip Morris) wasn’t there to flog cigarettes to supermarkets.
Instead it’s hoping to show food and drinks companies that they’re next in the regulators’ firing line. Its stand, decked out like a nightmarish carnival, carried warnings that promotion bans, taxes and plain packaging could leave unhealthy food and drinks as restricted as tobacco.
Once a normal product no less accessible than a tin of beans, cigarettes have slowly been enveloped by a straightjacket of promotional regulations as society’s tolerance for tobacco has waned – in the West at least.
I have for some time been contemplating a world in which everything is covered with warning labels.
Imagine, for example, going into an art gallery, and finding that all the paintings in it have been defaced with large warnings pasted on top of them:
Something that was rather beautiful is made ugly. It’s made ugly and smelly.
Someone else’s opinion is it is being superimposed upon it. It’s as if a book is published, not with glowing reviews on the back cover, but with damning criticisms on the front cover. And not just on the front cover, but written in the margins (and perhaps between the lines) throughout the entire book.
And this is what Tobacco Control is doing to the world. It is making it ugly and nasty and smelly and poisonous. And the tobacco companies are warning other companies that this will very likely happen to their products too, as they also are in their turn defaced.
Tobacco Control is poisoning the world.
And I got my first “plain” pack of cigarette papers yesterday. I’d been wondering whether “plain packaging” would be extended to cigarette paraphernalia like papers and matchboxes and lighters. The answer, it would seem, is that, yes, it will be.
My “plain” cigarette paper pack actually is a completely plain muddy brown. It came inside a “plain” pack of tobacco. There’s no health warning on it. No picture. There’s nothing at all. Not even the manufacturer’s name (most likely Rizla). I wondered if the cigarette papers inside would also be muddy brown, but they were the usual white. I wonder how long that will last?
Rather like smoking bans around hospitals, “plain” packaging will extend gradually from cigarette packets to papers, matchboxes, lighters, ashtrays, and other paraphernalia – like a cancer metastasising from one organ to another.
Perhaps it will even extend to fashion? Imagine a beautiful blonde woman in a long mud brown dress, on which a large health warning has been superimposed: This woman may break your heart.