The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) has revealed that public concern about the unintended consequences of plain packaging has generated in the region of half a million responses opposing its introduction in the UK.
This figure is based on estimated responses into the consultation including signatures, postcards, letters, emails, online responses, consultation response forms and more, many of which have been sent directly to the Department of Health (DH). The news came as it was reported that Australia’s highest court had just upheld a law which means that from 1st December this year all cigarettes sold in Australia are to be in plain olive green packets with all other branding and trademarks removed except for graphic health warnings.
This unprecedented response in the UK represents views from thousands of members of the public as well as retailers, packaging companies, marketing and design firms, manufacturers, wholesalers, politicians, employers, employees, business groups, trade unions, the Intellectual Property community, international business, trade associations and the law enforcement community.
Jaine Chisholm Caunt, Secretary General of the TMA, commented: “Plain packaging is an assault on UK business in the midst of a double dip recession. Plain packs would be far easier to copy, and would therefore be a gift to the criminal gangs behind the illegal trade in tobacco and increase the £3.1bn that is lost annually to the UK Treasury as a result of this crime.
“At best, plain packaging will have no impact on youth smoking, as there is no credible evidence that packaging is a factor in underage smoking. At worst, it could actually increase youth smoking, by driving the availability of smuggled tobacco being sold by criminals in local communities. These illegal traders do not care who they sell to, and frequently target children. The percentage of children who smoke in the UK is at an historic low – 5%. We feel the government should reduce this figure further by tackling children’s access to tobacco through greater investment in enforcement and tougher penalties for illegal tobacco gangs, and by making proxy purchasing of tobacco illegal.”