Response to UK Chantler Plain Packaging Review
03 April 2014
We are disappointed to hear that Sir Cyril Chantler has concluded that plain packaging could be an effective measure for public health in the UK, despite recognising ‘there are limitations to the evidence currently available’.
Therefore, based on the evidence included in Sir Cyril’s report, the conclusion that plain packaging is an effective measure for public health defies logic.
We urge the UK Government to look at the data from Australia, where after one year it is clear the plain packaging experiment has failed.
The data shows that plain packaging has not had a positive effect on public health in Australia. What’s more, the Government must consider the wider implications of this policy given the increase in the illicit tobacco market and A$1billion in lost taxes to the Australian government.
Since plain packaging was introduced in Australia:
- The amount of tobacco sold equated to an increase of 59 million cigarettes, the first increase in Australian tobacco volumes in over five years
- The 3.3% average annual decline in Australian smoking rates from 2008 to 2012 has eased, down to 1.4% in 2013
- Illicit trade in tobacco has increased from 11.8% to 13.3% boosting profits for the black market and the criminals that run it.
Furthermore, we believe plain packaging fails to respect our minimum guaranteed rights on trade mark protection, contravenes EU law, affects property rights under UK law and infringes the UK’s obligations under international law.
We are clearly not alone in this view given five sovereign states are all at various stages of challenging Australia’s decision to introduce plain packaging via the World Trade Organisation with 35 countries, the highest ever, expressing an interest to observe and potentially contribute.
We support sound regulation that is consultative, evidence-based, delivers its policy aims and factors in potential unintended consequences providing it doesn’t infringe on our legal rights as a business.
Given the evidence from Australia included in Sir Cyril’s report shows plain packaging has failed we don’t see how the UK Government could justify implementing this policy.
We hope the UK Government continues its logical and pragmatic approach by dismissing plain packaging and looking at alternative tobacco control measures following the announced consultation.