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Maori Mix brand cigarettes – from Israel
Thursday December 15th 2005, 8:09 am
Filed under: Ramblings

I like to keep up to date with media around the world. I grew up in New Zealand and miss the local newspapers that I read in my earlier years. They had a very closed view of the world (which is one of the reasons I felt so desperate to leave).

Most of the newspapers in New Zealand are owned by Fairfax New Zealand Ltd. These papers are represented online at http://www.stuff.co.nz and whilst they don’t have every story available online, a good smattering of local content is always on offer.

New Zealand is pretty much an anti-smoking country. Sure, lots of people smoke… but it’s generally not acceptable to just “light up” anywhere you please (unlike my experiences in Europe – and specifically France). So it was rather entertaining to read that Phillip Morris (a global tobacco company) have a brand of cigarettes in Israel called Maori Mix.

The Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia website has an emotive comment from the Maori Smokefree Coalition.

Maori Smokefree Coalition (Te Reo Marama) spokesman Shane Bradbrook said the use of the Maori name and the image was a defilement and unbelievable considering the high smoking rate among Maori, and asked: “Would we have them here and call them Jewish Mix?”

A very good point. These cigarette packets have Maori motifs on them, Pacific Island stylised drawings, a holiday theme and the english text clearly states “Maori Mix”. Ripping off the brand of any identity is insulting… let alone that of the indiginous people of such a “clean green” appearing country as New Zealand.

The story (whilst no doubt a big deal in New Zealand) is hardly that important “in the big picture” of life… but I was glad to then read this transcript from the ABC Radio Australia network where Philip Morris representative, Colin Lipiatt said:

This packaging displayed on a limited number of packs of the Philip Morris international L and M cigarette brand was a short-run edition.

It’s no longer actively on the market in Israel or any other country, nor will it be used in the future.

We regret any offence this packaging has caused and the intent of the packaging was to communicate open-minded acceptance of cultural diversity as a key element of the L and M brand.

I wonder if they would have kept producing them if nobody from New Zealand had complained.

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