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Redheads are the largest selling brand of matches in Australia. The famous red haired woman logo first appeared on their matchboxes in 1946 and has gone through several incarnations since. The Australian manufacturing company was taken over by the tobacco company Swedish Match in 1998. Swedish Match's website (http://www.swedishmatch.com/eng/) shows the company manufactures nasal and oral snuff, and cigars, pipe tobacco, and matches.
On 1 March, Redheads launched an art competition encouraging entrants to design an image of the redheaded woman in an “international costume” to reflect Australia's multicultural society (www.redheads. com.au). The competition has three levels of entry—primary, and secondary schools, and a tertiary/open level. The website also encourages schools to contact them for educational material on fire safety with matches.
Matches are used to light barbecues, gas stoves, and candles. Their most common use is of course to light tobacco products. Given this, could it possibly have occurred to a tobacco company which also makes matches that having children from primary school starting to think about the attractiveness and design of matchbox art might make some of them more at ease with the most common purpose for which matches are used? Surely not.
ASH Australia felt that while such an idea could not possibly have occurred to the company, it was wise to err on the safe side. ASH decided to enter the competition in the open category with a drawing that they felt Swedish Match would be delighted to seriously consider as a new Redhead matchbox design. ASH felt sure that the company would agree the competition had nothing to do with encouraging smoking and that it would be a good opportunity to put another socially responsible message in front of children. Like many lung cancer sufferers, the woman in ASH's entry has lost some of her beautiful hair from chemotherapy and needs an oxygen mask to help her breathe.
At the time of going to press, the winning entry has not yet been announced.