Shag cigarettes sparks controversy with risque name

LONDON - A new cigarette brand has sparked controversy by naming its product Shag and accompanying the launch with the slogan 'Have you had one lately?'.

The brand, which has been launched by Welsh tobacconist Peter Lloyd and former dotcom businessman Martin Ferguson Jones, is heavily targeting the student market and is being given away free with Shag-branded condoms.

According to Lloyd, the Shag name is a bit of fun and ideal for the student market. The company has given away more than 30,000 packets of condoms since its launch.

The brand is the first independent cigarette brand to be launched in the UK since the Enlightened Tobacco Company unveiled Death cigarettes in 1991. Death cigarettes featured a skull and crossbones on the packet and also targeted the youth market.

"It's a fun name, like the FCUK brand," Lloyd said. "The packaging has been designed in black and white so the health warning doesn't look so odd on it."

As well as the cigarettes and condoms, The Shag Tobacco Company also has a Shag clothing line. However, this is not currently available in the UK because the clothing trademark to the word "shag" is owned by another firm.

Lloyd and his business partner are currently looking for retail outlets to widen the reach of the Shag brand. So far, deals have been signed with P&O Ferries and the company is in talks with supermarket chain Spar.

With no advertising support available following the tobacco advertising ban, Shag faces an uphill struggle but the company hopes it can circumvent this with point-of-sale promotions and by giving out Shag-branded condoms.

The new brand has been condemned by anti-smoking group Ash, which said in a statement: "Anything that encourages youths to smoke is not something we would condone."

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.

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