Over five years after tobacco plain packaging was introduced in Australia, there is no evidence that it has had any impact on smoking in the country. Instead, small producers who require packaging to distinguish their brands have suffered, while the biggest tobacco companies have simply received a larger market share. This from a Euractiv opinion piece written by Sinclair Davidson, a professor of institutional economics at RMIT University in Australia, senior research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and an academic fellow at the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.
We are now seeing similar evidence from France and the UK. A study carried out by the economic consultancy Europe Economics investigated the impact of the plain packaging policy in both France and the UK. The conclusion was that it had no statistically significant impact on tobacco consumption in either jurisdiction, and no statistically significant impact on smoking prevalence in the UK, which was consistent with the Australian experience. The author stressed that one of the only effects was that it transformed a legal branded and often premium product into an unbranded commodity, aiding smugglers.
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said “Public policy should always be evidence-based. Science, not ideology should rule the day. Plain packaging regulation is a prime example of this being inverted: Those in favour of packaging restrictions want their policy implemented no matter what, and are willing to ignore the growing body of evidence showing that this regulation simply does not work. The only results of this policy are the destruction of smaller and mid-sized family-owned firms, leading to further consolidation of the sector, and facilitating a rise in illegal trade. Policymakers have to get serious about science, and start making choices based on the weight of evidence.”