Thinking inside the box

I know at this stage this is an old story, but a good one always bears repeating.

Some of you may have missed the story last week and for those, here it is –

Stub you: How a tobacco giant is bypassing packaging rules.

Now I have this image running through my head.  Let's go back a few years to a conference room somewhere.  There are a few miserable grey people sitting around a table.

"Hey lads! I have just had a great idea!"

Heads turn with some scowling, as positive thoughts aren't encouraged normally.

"Let's force Big Tobacco to use exactly the same size box for all their brands!"

"Hmmmm, yes.  That would stop all those fancy boxes and packets they produce!"

"Maybe we could force them to make all the packets look exactly the same with nothing to differentiate between brands?"

Heads are nodding and some are actually cracking a smile for the first time in years.

"We could make them all the same colour too?  Fred – go out and do a survey to find the ugliest colour in the world, and don't forget to bill the government".

Fred departs looking so happy that no one recognises him any more.

"Let's cover the packets with horrible warnings of death and destruction!"

The suggestions are coming thick and fast now.

"Let's cover the packs with gruesome pictures.  It doesn't matter what they're of so long as they look disgusting."

"This is brilliant, lads!  Smokers will be so disgusted that they won't dare buy a pack.  They'll be ashamed to show themselves in public with such ugly boxes.  Genius!  A master stroke!"

Present day.

Same conference room.

"Why so glum, Jack?"

"Have you not heard the latest?"

"No.  What?"

"Those fuckers in Big Tobacco have come up with a new idea – a pack within a pack."

"They can't do that!  Smokers must be forced to read silly messages and look at gruesome images.  They're breaking the law!"

"No.  I checked.  There is nothing in the law to stop them.  Smokers will buy their cigarettes and then just chuck all our hard work in the bin while they go off with their nice shiny packs that were inside."

A air of gloom descends once more.  Some are actually relieved that they don't have to smile any more.

"There is only one thing we can do now."

"?"

"More research, lads. More research.  I'll write to the government for more cash."

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Comments

Thinking inside the box — 27 Comments

  1. Good on ’em, I say!

    Best ensure I buy their product next time I need some ciggies (I know… I’m such a degenerate for using such an evil product… Especially as a supposedly “informed” millennial/snow-flake/whatever).

    And its true – this doesn’t circumvent the laws at all! They’re following it to the LETTER, and doing as they’re told. Perhaps the Goobermint did this as an Easter-Egg, like those convenient tax loopholes?

    • I have no great love for any tobacco company, lust as I have no love for any company that produces my favourite bread, milk, stout or whatever, but fair play to them this time around.  Anyone who gets one over on Tobacco Control gets my vote!

  2. From the first line of that article:

    “IMPERIAL Tobacco has deployed a new trick to circumvent plain packaging legislation…”

    I must admit, that the inner pack on the right looks a lot *plainer* than the federally mandated one on the left…

    And even if they do bother to start printing something on the inner one, it won’t be visible until the packet is sold and subsequently opened, which is not only adhering to the letter of the stupid law they created, but to the spirit as well.

    No idea where they’re getting this “circumventing” hyperbole from.

    Well I do, but then logic was always in short supply over in Puritanicaland and Prodnosery.

    • Of course they are not "circumventing" the law, nor is it a trick – they are obeying it to the letter.  Tobacco Control just cannot believe that they have been outsmarted [which, when you think about it is fairly easy as they aren't that smart to start with].

  3. Yes, I saw that one. A great idea, and one that other manufacturers should take a cue from. I'm sure they have lots of bright sparks in their marketing departments who could develop the idea further while still remaining within the letter of the stupid laws about 'plain' packaging.

    I was sorry to see the demise of 'Smoke Screenz', who were making flip-top packs to your own personal design as well as offering a range of their own designs. You just pulled the inner foil out of the pack you bought and slipped it into your custom box. It was a brilliant idea, and they weren't very expensive; but obviously not enough people were sufficiently disgusted with the 'plain' packs to bother to buy them. Damn shame. His website has closed, and he's not even on Twatter any more. If I'd been a smoker of ready made cigarettes, I would certainly have given the guy my business. If they push through the PP idea in UK, I'm sure it would be worth reviving the idea. Just not enough potential customers in Aus, I guess.

    • I was surprised to see the loss of Smoke Screenz too.  It was a simple idea but it does have its flaws – presumably their packs would wear fairly quickly and people just wouldn't bother replacing them.  After all, who sits and stares at their fag packet?  People just remove a cigarette and shove the pack in their pocket.  It's only the terminally deluded in Tobacco Control who think we really want to flash our packs around.

      It would be a good time to restart manufacturing cigarette cases though.  Nice silver or gold ones!

      • I certainly don't have any love for Big T either, but I nearly am sorry that I stopped smoking in favor of vaping – otherwise I'd certainly change my brand to such a creative manufacturerl. Well done, Big T! Just like children – keeping to the rules by the letter but completely circumvent the meaning of the rule. Great!

        For the rest I'm fair disgusted as well by plain packaging as by the truly disgusting shock pics – what about the cheeeeldren waiting with their parent in the checkout line at the supermarket? Why should a child (or me for that matter) be subjected to such Godawful pics to stare at and be hypnotized by?

        I've already complained to one supermarkt that I don't cherish to be forced to stare at these fraud pics. I'm afraid though, they'll just build some kind of screen so you don't see the disgusting dirt any longer – better idea would be to write to every single politician who is in favor of that bullsh*t but I guess the supermarkets etc. won't bother.

        The poor cashier I complained to was a bit amazed when I told her that there's no such thing as a black lung – except if you've been working for years on end in a coal mine, and even then … case of spread the word I think … 😉

        • At least you can [presumably] see the packs on display?  Here in Ireland they are all hidden behind doors or panels like some kind of dirty secret [thereby increasing their appeal to kids!].  Imagine what it must be like for a tourist trying to find what's on offer?

          TC are just like children pulling wings off flies – they do it just because they can with no thought for the consequences.

          • Different things in different shops here in Germany – mostly you can see the packs at least behind some kind of bars, in the supermarket I just complained they're displayed completely open. Which means I really had to stare at the disgusting pics.

            I'll go on complaining – but I'm afraid that only plays TC in their hands to have more arguments to completely hide cigs. So I guess I will have to complain more differentiated – saying I don't mind at all the cigs but only the fraudulent pics that hypnotize me.

            I'm bloody serious – that's hypnotizing in the worst possible way by bringing up pics of horrible diseases. Maybe they hope to hypnotize people in developing the horrible illnesses they display so they finally find their "proof" of "tobacco related illnesses"?

      • I thought the boxes were plastic, and thus had a reasonable lifespan. Or perhaps that was the problem – they lasted too long, and as a result didn't generate enough repeat orders!

        Cigarette cases are nice, but usually the wrong size and shape for today's fashions. A slim, flat case was ideal when men wore jackets as a matter of course, but they aren't quite so convenient in the back pocket of your jeans, are they? Or in a shirt top pocket. I used to have a collection of them when I was young and they were a norm, but sadly they all got lost somewhere along the way. A real bummer, actually, as a couple of them had my grandfathers initials engraved on them, and one with his bowling club's insignia, too. He was an English Champion bowler, and was in the England bowling team in the '30s. I still have a book he wrote on the finer points of bowls.

        Sorry, wandering off topic here…just basking in the reflected glory a bit. 🙂

        • I'm not sure now what they were made of.  I'm sure a company or two will pick up on the idea here in Europe though.

          Oh for the good old days where there was a booming trade in cigarette cases, crystal ashtrays and desk lighters.  The only time you;ll see those now is in an antiques dealer's shop.  They used to be given as treasured mementos and prizes, and now presumably have to be hidden in shame?  Bollox!  Stick 'em on the mantelpiece and be proud!  Pity about your grandfather's ones though.

  4. Ah. My comment has disappeared into the ether. If you find it, GD, please retrieve it for me. If it has disappeared without a trace, I'll drag it out of 'Textarea Cache' and repost.

      • I thought your new all singing all dancing site was supposed to be lightening fast, GD? 🙂 Anyway, my comments usually appear pretty much immediately, but this time they just didn't appear, so I assumed they'd been swallowed by the great troll in the interwebby sky. I'll know next time that on this site patience is a vitue, and that I have to check back in half an hour to see if my comments have posted…. 🙂

        Also, my username etc have disappeared from the boxes below (again), after having reappeared a while after you did your changes. Have you been fiddling around in the engine room again?

        • There is something a little funny going on but I don't know what.  Three comments yesterday all went into Spam for no reason whatsoever [lucky I found them!].  I did make one tiny change yesterday which was to remove the URL field from the comment form, which wouldn't have any impact on speed or comments.  If anything it would improve speed by a Picosecond or two.  Just part of my anti-Troll measures.  The not remembering bit is still down to your browser though……..

  5. Are we going to end up with 'Russian Doll' packaging?

    In reality though, if the current boxes the fags come in are so alluring then after the plain packs arrive, the only people selling the alluring stuff will be the smugglers.

    • The term "Russian Dolls" did cross my mind!  What is to stop the companies using multicoloured foil [with logos of course]?  The law says foil backed with paper but as far as I am aware it doesn't specify the colour of the foil, whether it has to be plain, or the thickness of the paper backing.  Make cigs slightly thinner and there'd be room for a complete package in there!

  6. Aha!  Curiously, my own brand have recently come up with a new packaging device, which involves a complete foil “inner pack” within the box – supposedly a better way of keeping the cigarettes fresh, as the top of the inner pack re-seals itself when the lid is closed up.  But, hey presto! – a little bit of careful removal (there’s a bit of glue keeping it in place) and I get a shiny silver softpack, too!  How cool is that?  Not quite as neat as the Stuyvesant one, it’s true (my brand seems to have made theirs out of two foil pieces, rather than just the one), but perfectly serviceable.  Ingenious!  And all obediently within the letter of the law, too – not a trademark or a brand name anywhere in sight.  So, thanks to all those antis who just couldn’t wait to point the accusing finger at the Tobacco Companies’ “new trick” to circumvent plain packaging – I’d never have known otherwise!

    Having said that, it’s actually really easy to make up cigarette boxes using the – err – Blue Peter method.  If you carefully pull apart a “standard” card box and lay it flat, it can easily be used as a template on a piece of normal card, folded in the usual places and glued into place as per the original, because they’re only actually made out of a single piece of card.  The card could even be printed before cutting with your own design or personalisation or (if you’re feeling kind) the name of your brand on the outside (although trying to get things to appear exactly where they are on a commercial box can be tricky and very time-consuming, so may be best avoided).  Or you could simply use a different coloured box for each day of the week; or design a special one for when visiting anti-smoking friends or relatives with kids by printing lovely, fluffy pictures of cute kittens or bunny rabbits or My Little Pony, or Pokemon characters, or sweeties all over it; or you could upset the parents of teenagers by putting photos of the latest teen heartthrob on; or you could cover it with a list of all the illnesses that smokers don’t get, like Alzheimers or MND; or put on a couple of carefully-chosen “debunking” stats about the ones they supposedly do …… oh, the possibilities are endless!  Has to be one of the older, square-cornered boxes, though.  The new-style ones with the rounded corners can be used, but aren’t so good as a template.

    Mind you, with the discovery of these new, shiny “soft-pack” inserts, maybe there’s no need to go to all that trouble!

    • I'm just waiting for the new "standard packs" to come out so I can create a box slightly larger, that the bought one can slide into.  No fiddling and no bent fags [foil packs can be quite bendy?].  I have already toyed mentally with various designs.  I discarded Sponge Bob as I can't stand the fucking programme, toyed with "Frozen" but may just go for pink fluffy bunnies [or kittens] or those Transformer things, which, on reflection, would be very appropriate?  Slogans would run along the lines of "Smoking staves off Alzheimer's" or "Smoking helps concentration" or just plain "Smoking is great!"  "Einstein was a smoker" would be a good one?

      Personally I couldn't give a damn as my pipe baccy packing goes straight in the bin as soon as I have transferred the contents to my nice soft leather pouch!  I have to think of the Grandkids though hence my forward thinking for cigarettes.

  7. I remember the days (when I was very, very, very young!) when my grandparents brought their ciggy packets home and transfered the ciggies to cigarette cases anyway.  Grandpa had a silver one and Grandma's was leather.  If it was good enough for James Bond…. a bit of panache?   In later years Grandma had a cloth pouch that fitted over the packet. There was also a brass cigarette box on the sideboard.  Didn't the ciggies  have their brand names printed discretely on the actual cigarette paper back then?  I have a vague recollection of seeing the "Senior Service" logo on a ciggy? If so then maybe they should start doing that again!

    • Yes, I remember the logos and text printed on the stick itself.  Considering that that would be tantamount to forcing every child in a quarter mile radius to smoke, I doubt that will happen again. Anyway, aren't TC talking about making the sticks look lurid anyway, with mandatory colours and "health warnings" printed on them?

  8. My kids bought me a tin of "Senior Moments Mints," as a joke a few years ago. By then, I was rolling my own, (cigarettes!), and discovered to my joy that when the horrible cheap mints were binned, the tin was the perfect size to hold exactly twenty rolled smokes in two rows. 

    I've considered spray painting it in two tone but then I thought, 'fuck it.' I don't spray paint any of the tools in my toolbox. The tin is six years old in November.

    • My father had a tin he kept his rollies in.  It was battered and so well used that most of the paint had come off, leaving it nice and shiny silver.  I think it was an Oxo tin, but I can't be sure.

  9. So, if I see this correctly, the new packs will only lead to little kids and non-smokers being disgusted and hypnotized, while every self-respecting smoker will avoid the hypnotism and disgust by wisely transferring it to non-visibility.

    What the hell is the sense of all this? Simply being vengeful toward Big T by forcing them to not have a recognizable product by eliminating discerning flavours plus eliminating discerning packages plus forcing them to thoroughly disgust their customers by each and every purchase?

    Can someone please stop all the absurdity?

    • @Claudia: “What the hell is the sense of all this? ”

      What’s ‘sense’ got to do with Big Public Health?

      It’s simply 100% pure unadulterated control-freakery about stuff they don’t like other people doing.

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