Saturday, 21 May 2011

Big tobacco finds font loophole in plain pack laws

Cigarette Symbol Equals Smiley Face, the new brand name for the former Winfield Blue.
Tobacco giants today revealed plans to change product brand names to a series of symbols to continue marketing appealing messages to smokers.

Under the government's proposed plain packaging legislation, all logos will be removed and tobacco companies must print their brand name in a specific font.

The prescribed font, Vapidia (deemed to be suitably bland and unappealing), contains a selection of special characters ripe for exploitation by cigarette marketers. Among the available symbols are a cigarette icon, smiley face, heart shape, eye and thumbs up.

British American Tobacco's Australian chief executive Dave Raven says this is the only avenue remaining for brands to compete in the marketplace.

"We have every right to promote our brand identity and by changing the brand names, we're able to utilize that small space beneath the gangrenous eyeball or whatever, to communicate some of the positive, more affirming aspects of nicotine consumption," he said.

"Benson & Hedges will become Eye Heart Cigarette; Winfield Blue becomes Cigarette Equals Happy. It's an innovative way to facilitate differentiation for consumers and falls entirely within the letter of the law."

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the Vapidia font is not yet locked in and several typefaces are currently under consideration, adding, "we're not ruling out Comic Sans."

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