Queensland-based business, Box Wraps, has taken a stance against the Australian government’s decision to force tobacco companies into selling their products in plain, standardised packaging by launching a range of purpose-built stickers to wrap around cigarette packets.
Marketed under the slogan “It’s your box, it’s your choice”, Box Wraps come in four sizes with 30 different designs to choose from. The stickers cover the pack, obscuring the images of dying cancer patients, diseased body parts, and health warnings now customary on cigarette packaging.
Speaking to the Australian press, Box Wraps general manager, Anthony Do Rozario, said: “I've got a lot of friends who are smokers and they all hate the plain packaging. People feel they have had their choice ripped off them.”
Box Wraps has registered a worldwide patent for the stickers with plans afoot to introduce plain packaging in the UK as well as other countries. Do Rozario has confirmed email interest from UK smokers should Britain decide to introduce plain packaging and the company has already registered the worldwide patent for the stickers, with pro-smoking lobby Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) already backing the product.
Speaking to The Drum, Angela Harbutt, head of campaign at Hands of Our Packs, who are campaigning against the introduction of plain packaging in the UK, explained that it came as “no surprise to us stickers, sheaths, 'skins' and good old fashioned cigarette cases are flooding the market as a response to the Australian government enforcing the display of revolting images on cigarette packs”.
Harbutt added: “Such an extreme action from government was always going to result in an extreme reaction from the public. It is consumer demand driving these new product innovations in Australia and it's interesting to note that UK consumer interest in these new products is already very high indeed.
“An exploding market in sexy cigarette covers is yet another unintended consequence of plain packaging. The Australian government can spin this as 'plain' packaging being successful. But the opposite is true. How can a measure that creates a whole new market in cigarette covers as aspirational fashion accessories, sporting no health advice whatsoever, be considered successful?”
The Australian Medical Association has urged the federal government to step in and ban the stickers, Steve Hambleton, president of the AMA commented: “I would be confident that the government would response very quickly to stop this defeating the intention of their legislation.
“The AMA certainly takes a dim view of this... and we support rapid responses to any attempt to undermine the plain packaging legislation.”
Here in the UK, Amanda Sandford, research manager for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), told The Drum that Box Wraps were merely “trying to capitalise on the fact that people are shocked by these images [health warnings].”
Sandford continued that she doubted they would “make much difference really in the long run,” as when picture warnings first appeared here in the UK “one or two companies tried to sell sleeves or you know covers for the pack and it didn’t take off, at the end of the day if they [smokers] want cigarettes they will go and buy them anyway.”
“Plain Packaging is more about protecting children and making cigarettes less attractive, than making smokers quit.”