Conflict over slogans
It is forbidden to print on cigarette packets “slogans that might give the impression that a certain tobacco product could be less harmful than others”. So the Yesmokes, that displayed the catchphrase “Smoke Better”, were outlawed.
The Canton Laboratory of Bellinzona Vs Yesmoke
It was a directive of the Canton Laboratory of Bellinzona that ordered the immediate withdrawal from the market of all the cigarette packs with these slogans. Yesmoke complied, and destroyed the product; the company was also condemned to a modest fine (2,345 Swiss francs, equal to US $1,800), not much compared to the damage suffered with the destruction of all its stocks.
The Cantonal Laboratory pointed out that, based on the Federal Law governing food products, that also covers tobacco products and cigarettes, similar writing and pictures (the “Smoke Better” slogan) does not declare the truth; it presents to consumers information that is not correct regarding the product's effects on the health; the slogan therefore constitutes a patent deception of consumers.
At this point of the conflict with the multinational tobacco producer Philip Morris, Yesmoke has been defeated on all fronts: the online store has had to stop selling and all Yesmoke's products have been withdrawn from the market and destroyed, both in the United States and in Switzerland.
- January 26, 2005: the Cantonal Laboratory of Bellinzona questions Yesmoke's use of the affirmation “Smoke Better” written on Yesmoke cigarette packs;
- June 22, 2005: the Cantonal Laboratory of Bellinzona rules that the writing “Smoke Better” must be removed from the packs and that all the goods must be destroyed;
- June 28, 2005: Yesmoke appeals against the ruling;
- September 15, 2005: the appeal is rejected, all the cigarettes will be destroyed.
While people pay close attention to what is written outside the pack, like the writing “Medium”, “Light”, etc. (soon to be prohibited all over the world), nothing is being done anywhere in the world, to better safeguard the consumer from what is inside the pack.
Although there is the need to make the disclosure of the ingredients of a brand obligatory, at least to the authorities of the country where the product is sold, this seems to be impossible, everywhere in the world.
Cigarettes are considered a food product under the law all over the world, but in everyday practice, this seems to be true only for Yesmoke. It appears that few people have noticed that consumer protection, in the case of tobacco, has always been ignored worldwide, as if it was unimportant. Smoke better or smoke worse? What can we do if not even the authorities are able to discover the real differences between one brand and another?