Mild Seven cigarettes are no more to be found in the smoker’s paradise. Japan Tobacco Inc. changed the name of its flagship cigarette brand from “Mild Seven” to “Mevius” in a bid to expand its global market share and stopped selling Mild Seven cigarettes this week. In their heyday, they were the 5th best-selling cigarette in the world. As of today, there may still be a few Mom and Pop stores carrying this iconic brand but better smoke’em while you got them—soon they will vanish in a cloud of mild smoke.
Mild Seven launched circa 1977, was Japan’s leading national brand of cigarettes with a 30 percent share of the domestic market. However, in recent years, the use of the word “mild” in the product’s name aroused controversy because it seemed to imply that the cigarettes were somehow less harmful than other brands. (I can remember when they were sold in cans, and sometimes placed on the bar of a bar in a seedy part of Minato-ku. Kind of like free pretzels. I’d smoke them, because they were free–and always regret it. Mild as menopause.)
Japan takes a very mild attitude towards smoking. Most life insurance companies neither penalize or reward smokers versus non-smokers. In other words, smoking in Japan doesn’t effect your life insurance payments either way in most cases. (If you don’t believe me, ask my life insurance representative.)
For those who are worried that their favorite cigarette is gone, fear not. The taste and composition of the cigarette will remain unchanged and over the next 10 months, JT will gradually introduce the Mevius brand in international markets while solidifying brand recognition in Japan . According to JT, the company selected the Mevius name to maintain continuity with its predecessor: both include the letters “M” and “S.” JT did not consider changing the name to Masochistic Seven or do an about face and call it Harsh Seven. No one is sure what the Seven in Mild Seven really refers to, unless smoking is consider the mildest of the seven deadly sins. (We forget what the seven deadly sins are but certainly smoking must be amongst them. Any Catholics in the house?)
Mild Seven has been the best-selling cigarette brand in Japan since 1978. Japanese sales top 1 trillion yen and are sold in Russia, South Korean, Taiwan and over ten more countries. Last year, there were 76,500,000,000 Mild Seven cigarettes sold. That’s a lot of coffin nails. Will Mevius do as much damage to the lungs of the world as Mild Seven? Japan Tobacco is waiting for that answer with bated breath…or waiting slightly short of breath, from smoking too many Mevius Menthol Lights.
One question still remains: what the hell does Mevius mean or stand for? One explanation is that M is for Mild, EV is for evolution, I is for “I”, U is for “You” the consumer, and S is for Seven. But that isn’t funny enough. The person who gives the most plausible and amusing answer wins an original pack of rare Mild Seven cigarettes. The loser gets a pack of Mevius. We’re anxious to hear your thoughts.