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Illicit trade warnings over plain packs dismissed by antis as scare stories

| March 31, 2014

A tobacco control group has accused tobacco companies of having encouraged scare stories predicting that the introduction of standardized packaging for tobacco products would boost cigarette smuggling, according to a story by Jamie Doward for The Observer (U.K.).

A new study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, claims such arguments must be viewed skeptically.

“We found that from early 2008 until early 2011 there were absolutely no media stories citing industry data on illicit sales of tobacco, despite levels being far higher then than they are now,” said professor Anna Gilmore of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath. “Then suddenly, just after the possibility of plain packaging was announced, we saw an increase in such stories, which have continued since. This, and the fact that leaked documents show that illicit trade was to be one of the industry’s key arguments against plain packs, suggests this is a deliberate strategy.”

There was no attempt in the story to try to explain the seeming conflict between there having been “absolutely no media stories” and there having been an “increase in such stories,” and Gilmore went on to say that industry claims that the use of illicit cigarettes in the U.K. was sharply increasing were “wholly inconsistent” with historical trends and recent independent data.

The study apparently also states that there was growing evidence tobacco companies were still involved in the illicit trade. “There is evidence of significant overproduction of cigarettes in markets such as Ukraine and Belarus and we know these excess cigarettes end up in the illegal market,” the study said.

The full story is at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/30/tobacco-cigarette-smuggling-scare-plain-packs.

Category: Breaking News

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