Friday, February 26, 2016

"Shock images" coming to cigarette and tobacco packages in Germany

The European Union puts a lot of effort into keeping its residents healthy, so much actually that said residents have to protest every once in a while to keep the health-o-crats focused on priorities.

You can't catch them all, so the Novel Foods Directive is, in the opinion of the blogster, a perfect example of how not to make your citizens happy.

Tobacco is a subject where agreement is much easier to obtain, and there are extremely compelling arguments for regulation. The EU Public Health website reflects this in its extensive section on tobacco.

The latest incentive in the area is the introduction of "shock image" packages in Germany by mid-2016. Smokers will soon have to look at cancerous lungs and other sweet gross images in order to get at their tobacco.

The blogster would love to see cars come with decals of severed arms or crushed skulls, but in all fairness, the number of people who die from tobacco use is greater, and you can't fight all addictions at the same time.

Which leaves us with the practical side of the new regulation.

Will gas stations and smoke shops try to protect customers who are not there to buy tobacco products? By putting up curtains, for example, so that the alcoholic non-smoker is not haunted by gaping wounds all the way home, which would make him want to have an extra drink?

Will gas station customers seek the help of psychologists in preparation for lawsuits for emotional distress?

Will a smoker commit suicide - fast suicide, not the slow smoking kind - due to traumatizing nightmares full of shock image tobacco packages?

How is the EU going to tackle the unavoidable increase in camouflage packaging, plain boxes or fancy knit stash containers?

Are the eurocrats, or the Germans, going to outlaw pretty metal stash boxes like this American Spirit box?

It is very probable that police start to use the modern fashionable catch-all "dangerous weapon" for any object they don't like or want to keep for themselves after confiscation.

A couple of years ago, German police took a toilet brush away from a pedestrian with that justification. By all accounts, the brush had just been bought at a store, if you need to know.

The American Spirit box in the picture does have a removable metal pin in the hinge, ample reason for the dangerous weapon status.

Will there be a knock-on effect for other products that come in tin cans, for example Altoids (tm) candies?

Alas, the Tobacco Directive is silent about this sort of loophole.

We would like to end this post with two positive business ideas:
1) If you currently own metal stash boxes, do not sell them now. Wait until the shock packs go on sale, then follow the example of the Oregon girl scout, who sold girl scout cookies outside of a marijuana shop.
2) Offer in-store repacking services to your local gas station, where a customer comes in, orders a pack, then you re-package it immediately out of sight in a back room, and bingo, the customer never gets to see the deterrent image.

[Update 2/28/2016]
A funny thing happened today.
"They are using a lot of fakes", said the person familiar with shock images being used in other countries.
"Fakes? You are saying not just simple Photoshop edits but fakes?"

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