A recent study published by independent polling company Kantar TNS shows that plain packaging has not had a measurable effect on smoking prevalence in the United Kingdom. Less than a year after its introduction, the government must now acknowledge the failure of this widely unpopular measure. The study reveals that a clear majority of UK citizens (65%) believe that plain-packaging has failed to deliver results and constitutes a poor allocation of budgetary resources. Initially introduced in Australia in 2012, the policy has never been shown to have any impact on smoking rates.
Importantly, over half of the respondents feared that plain packaging would lead to an increase in illegal cigarette trafficking. Plain packaging, along with the rising prices of tobacco products, is directly linked to increases in illegal trafficking. The fight against smuggling is a matter of government responsibility, not only in border control, customs and policing, but also in a pragmatic approach to tobacco policies.
Plain packaging “drives the black market and does not lead to lower consumption of products, as Australia or the UK show, and limit consumer choice” said Fred Roeder, director of the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC). “If you have one uniform product, it is much easier to fake it”.
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said: “As a rule, government policies should aim to dissuade people from engaging in illegal activity. Plain packaging achieves precisely the opposite of this, encouraging smuggling by facilitating the manufacture of counterfeit tobacco products.”