Standardized packs decision under fire

| July 16, 2013

The U.K. government is coming under heavy fire for abandoning—for the time being at least—the idea of introducing standardized tobacco packaging.

The government put the matter out to public consultation and, following that consultation, decided to await the outcome of Australia’s pioneering adoption of standardized packaging.

Quoting the government’s summary report of the public consultation, Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) said that 665,989 responses had been received from 24 separate campaigns. Around two-thirds of campaign responses received were from people who were opposed to the introduction of standardized packaging (427,888 responses) and one-third of campaign responses received were from people who supported standardized packaging (238,101 responses).

But those in favor of standardized packaging have cried foul because of the presence in the corridors of power of Lynton Crosby.

Crosby works for the Conservative party, one of two parties in the ruling coalition, as an election strategist.

He is not employed to advise on policy, but some people are not happy that, according to The Times, his lobbying company, Crosby Textor (CTF), has been advising Philip Morris.

Nor are they happy that, according to a BBC story, CTF was employed by British American Tobacco in Australia; though the company was quoted as saying that the CTF did not work on BAT’s campaign against plain packaging in that country.

Since Dec. 1, Australia has required that all tobacco products be sold in packaging designed on behalf of the government to be as ugly as possible. Packs are hugely dominated by graphic health warnings, are otherwise a standard olive color, have no logos or other design features, and have brand and variant names in a standardized font and position.

As things stand, the EU could well adopt a new Tobacco Products Directive that would include a requirement that would render cigarette packs close to being standardized. Packs would have to carry graphic health warnings covering 75 percent of their front and back surfaces.

Category: Breaking News

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