Old packaging still with a discreet warning label but without images. In the run-up to the new packaging directive the opponents struggled for every inch and the initially 75% of surface ended up as 65% with warning label and shocking images. Photo: Björn Wylezich / fotolia.com
Shocking Packaging - EU tobacco directive limits cigarette box design
Deterrence through horror images. Since 20 May 2016 only cigarettes and tobacco products with large-format shock images and warning notes on their packaging may be produced in Germany. Numerous boxes have therefore been pre-produced for months now; in the 1st quarter 2016 22% more tax was collected on cigarettes than in the previous year. With this move manufacturers aim to fill the shelves with old packaging without shocking images thereby using the transition period of one year as best as possible until only the new boxes many be sold.
Still a familiar sight at check-out counters: tobacco packaging without horror images. The tobacco industry has been busy pre-producing and this is why the new packaging is only expected to show up on German retail shelves in the course of the year. Photo: oneblink1 / fotolia.com
The aesthetic looks of every-day objects
The corresponding new tobacco products directive was already adopted as early as May 2014. Until the very last moment leading tobacco industry associations tried to fight for a one-year prolongation of the deadline but failed at the end of the day. The arguments brought forward by the German cigarette association run as follows: manufacturing changeovers pose a technical problem to many manufacturers in the short run and are therefore expected to cause substantial distortions of the market and job losses. Furthermore, members fear that the new law will only benefit multi-national market leader Philip Morris while placing smaller and medium-sized companies at a disadvantage.
To protect above all young people not only large-format warning notes and shocking images are mandatory but also smaller packaging sizes for specific tobacco products are prohibited. To prevent counterfeiting cigarette packs will also have to feature specific identifiers and safety features from 2019.
Cigarette sales are going down. Advertising bans, warning notes and tax increases are putting pressure on the tobacco industry. Business, however, is bright. Higher prices, new markets and product developments make the smokers’ industry look to the future with optimism. Photo: graja / fotolia.com
Some cigarette brands had already adapted to the changed packaging specifications early on. The design of the famous Marlboro cigarette packet was already revised in 2014 by a French agency knowing that in France up to 50% of the packaging had to be covered with health warnings since 2011. The brand recognition levels of the Marlboro brand are so high that Philip Morris decided to only focus on the red/white design with the triangle and to apply the lettering to the top flap only. For the entire product family the top quarter of the packaging will be coloured in gold, blue and green.
31 May is World Non-Smokers Day: in 2016 it comes under the motto "Get ready for plain packaging - Mach Dich bereit für die Einheitspackung". Photo: REDSTARSTUDIO / fotolia.com.
Fear of “plain packaging”
The new EU provisions might only be the tip of the iceberg. Rising demands for plain packaging for cigarettes without any logos or corporate colours, as they already exist in Australia, might also prove a threat to the industry in Germany. France and the United Kingdom have already decided to introduce “mono packaging”. And quite a few things will also change in terms of cigarette advertising in Germany from 2020. From that time outdoor advertising for tobacco products will be prohibited. Until now Germany and Bulgaria were the only EU countries where this type of advertising was still permitted.
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