British American Tobacco says there is no credible evidence that standardized tobacco packaging will reduce smoking.
In a press note posted on its website, the company said that even Sir Cyril Chantler’s own review for the UK Department of Health admitted the evidence that standardized packaging could improve public health was ‘modest and had its limitations’.
‘Australia is the only country to have introduced plain packaging and the experiment there is failing,’ said BAT. ‘In the first year alone:
* ‘Legal sales of tobacco increased by the equivalent of 59 million cigarettes – after years of decline;
* ‘The black market for tobacco grew by 20 percent – profiting criminals while depriving the Australian taxpayer of AUS$1billion; and
* ‘The steady reduction of smoking rates that Australia had seen in recent years actually halved.’
Meanwhile, BAT said that it had included in its comprehensive submission to the UK’s standardized packaging consultation never-before-seen data from Australia that clearly showed such packaging had not achieved the Australian government’s public health objectives. This was said to be important data that Chantler had been offered access to but hadn’t include in his review.
‘In addition, our submission also contains a full critique of the Government’s Impact Assessment and the Chantler Report by Stephen Gibson, an independent expert in regulation and competition economics,’ BAT’s press note said.
‘As well as proving to be ineffective, plain packaging infringes on our legal rights as a business and fails to respect our minimum guaranteed rights regarding trade mark protection.
‘When the UK Government consulted on the idea of plain packaging in 2012, 64 percent of respondents rejected the idea. We understand that once again thousands of individuals and groups also oppose plain packaging and have made their views known.
‘Given the number of detailed responses that have been submitted, we are confident the UK Government will take the same meticulous approach to reviewing them as it did during its 2012 consultation. We hope that any policy announcement will be based on plain facts and evidence.’
BAT’s response to the UK government’s 2014 standardized packaging consultation is at:
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