While the rest of the developed world attempts to gradually elbow the tobacco companies out of the market, in Japan tobacco enjoys free rein. Not only are cigarettes pretty cheap here compared with other developed countries, but cigarette advertising is rife.
Not only is cigarette advertising rife, but tobacco companies are free to aggressively target the under-25s market as freely as, say, McDonald’s does.
Here on a counter of a Three F convenience store in Tokyo’s Ryogoku area (famous for sumo), is a display of Camel cigarettes clearly aimed at youngsters. (There was another one by the other cash counter.) They are point-of-purchase (POP), they are kiddy-styled in being “mini” and, more importantly, cute. They are kiddy-priced, being cheap, and they are kiddy-flavored, being menthol. They also have another feature often associated with products for the young crowd: a free gift, in this case a box of “original” matches (the orange box in the foreground, masquerading as a cigarette box, or an “original” lighter.)
There’s nothing kiddy about the “8 mg” though! If there was any way of being less subtle about trying to create new nicotine addicts, we’d like to see it!
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