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Plain packs report finding ‘defies logic’

| April 4, 2014

British American Tobacco said yesterday it was disappointed to hear that Sir Cyril Chantler had concluded that standardized tobacco packaging could be an effective measure for public health in the U.K., despite recognizing “there are limitations to the evidence currently available.”

“Therefore, based on the evidence included in [Chantler]’s report, the conclusion that plain packaging is an effective measure for public health defies logic,” BAT said in a note posted on its website.

In November, Chantler, a pediatrician, chairman of University College London Partners and nonexecutive chairman of the Quality and Clinical Risk Committee of NHS (National Health Service) England, was asked by the government to undertake an independent review of the public health evidence for standardized tobacco packaging.

BAT urged the U.K. government to look at the data from Australia, where, it said, after one year it was clear the plain packaging experiment had failed.

“The data shows that plain packaging has not had a positive effect on public health in Australia,” BAT said. “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 percent average annual decline in Australian smoking rates from 2008 to 2012 has eased, down to 1.4 percent in 2013;
  • Illicit trade in tobacco has increased from 11.8 percent to 13.3 percent, boosting profits for the black market and the criminals that run it.”

BAT said it believed plain packaging failed to respect its minimum guaranteed rights on trademark protection, contravened EU law, affected property rights under U.K. law and infringed the U.K.’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 Organization with 35 countries, the highest ever, expressing an interest to observe and potentially contribute,” BAT added.

“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 [Chantler]’s report shows plain packaging has failed, we don’t see how the U.K. government could justify implementing this policy.

“We hope the U.K. government continues its logical and pragmatic approach by dismissing plain packaging and looking at alternative tobacco control measures following the announced consultation.”

Category: Breaking News

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