Major tobacco companies are doing their best to turn average smokers into the rebels by the latest underground campaign promoting mass protests against hefty taxes, regulations and smoking bans.
The campaign named “I Deserve to Be Heard” comprises putting small notes into cigarette packs sending smokers to certain website stating: “It’s time to tell the government you’ve had enough”.
The Australian government states it will concentrate efforts on eliminating the tobacconists’ campaign, as the spokesperson for Australian Minister of Health said the campaign is a vivid example of how low tobacco industry is ready to go to promote their dangerous goods.
Anti-tobacco organizations are shocked by the latest strategy, naming the campaign arrogant and unprecedented.
Local smokers have faced two considerable hikes in cigarette taxes during the last 12 months and the number of venues where puffing is permitted is decreasing annually since the federal and state legislatures implement extensions to cover more places by the bans.
Smoking is prohibited throughout the country in bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants, business centers and other places, while several states have prohibited, or intend to prohibit lighting up on beaches, parks and other outdoor facilities.
Business owners criticize the new regulations as well, especially after the lawmakers approved the law to require cigarettes to be sold in generic packages and under the counter, and implemented a set of further restrictions on marketing and advertising.
The I Deserve to Be Heard public campaign was introduced by Philip Morris International’s Australian unit, which markets Marlboro cigarettes, the world’s best-selling tobacco brand, L&M, and other world-known cigarette brands.
The campaign encourages adult smokers to contact their MP and support their smoking electorate.
The campaign has three targets – tax increases, smoking bans in outdoor venues, and generic packaging of cigarettes.
“Australia has been one of the most over-governed countries across the developed nations,” according to the website.
“If you are a smoker, you are definitely annoyed and frustrated.”
Philip Morris Limited issued a written statement, saying that the campaign concentrates on giving people who purchase the company’s products the chance to make their opinion heard regarding the excessive and senseless laws which affect them.
A spokesperson for Nicola Roxon, Australian Minister of Health stated the government was preparing to fight with the campaign, and considering the legal fight as well.
“Tobacco companies don’t want people to know that about 75 percent of adult smokers attempt to stop smoking or reduce consumption annually – people are aware that smoking is a deadly habit, while the smoking rate is dropping,” the spokesperson added.