In a full-page advertisement inside Toronto Life magazine, du Maurier, a cigarette brand of Imperial Tobacco Canada, the wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of British American Tobacco plc.(BAT), introduced its new “greener” cigarette packages. Parent company Imperial Tobacco has replaced the aluminium foil with normal paper and uses external cardboard packaging that “meets standards supporting sustainable forest management,’ according to the ad. Further stating, that “Small steps make the difference”.
To justify their ‘green’ action, Imperial Tobacco Canada stated, that “our product is going to be in the waste or the dumpster, so what we try to do in terms of … corporate social responsibility is do it in a good manner.”
The words sound ridiculous coming from a tobacco company and referring to “corporate social responsibility”. I don’t deny the company the right to join the army of corporations introducing ‘greener’ packages as a marketing object, but in combination with the fatal consequences of smoking the product, the argumentation the company uses, i.e. the ‘greener’ packaging as a result of its corporate social responsibility, is hypocritical.
Or as, Moira Welsh writes in the Star: “First you’ll feel green, and then you’ll die..”
This is particularly true, as the same packaging holds the most horrific pictures as shown here as only one from a whole series of warning labels, including a picture of a cancer-riddled lung via an autopsy.
One blogger fulminated: “The green packaging will go good with your black lungs and yellow teeth. The idea is that environmentalists will feel better about killing themselves. I guess the way people who smoke “light” cigarettes do. The fact is, the package is biodegradable and so is your body.”
The green packages from du Maurier may help the company feel good about their contribution to the environment. But what about their contribution to killing people? I suppose it should have had much more impact, if they did some research and introduced together with the green packaging, the green cigarette. Impossible? I don’t think so.
People smoke and will continue to do so, whatever the consequences. The ‘corporate social responsibility’, however, can’t be ‘fattened up’ in reference to a greener packaging. Social responsibility requires a healthy product. When will the tobacco industry finally understand that some research might lead to a ‘greener’ product out of their so hypocritically used statement: ‘corporate social responsibility’? It might safe them a future similar as to the ‘old-time’ automakers in Detroit, which have been ignoring innovations for too long.
UPDATE: A Coffin-Shaped Pack of Cigarettes
In April 2009 for a “campaign to stop smoking”, Ukrainian designer Reynolds, designed a concept for a ’social responsible’ packaging of tobacco products, resulting in a coffin-shaped pack of cigarettes.
The idea is not so new and unique, but still quite impressive, however no tobacco company will use the design in reality, as it is meant to be a visual stimulus to quit smoking.