Plain unpopular

| May 17, 2018

One year on from the introduction of standardized packaging for tobacco in the UK, new research commissioned by Japan Tobacco International and conducted by the independent polling company Kantar TNS, has revealed that the majority of the UK public are not supportive of the policy.

In a note posted on its website JTI said the largest public opinion poll of its kind since standardized tobacco packaging was introduced, research had found that UK citizens were concerned their government had imported a failed policy from Australia without fully evaluating the potential negative consequences.

The poll had found that:

* ‘Almost two-thirds of the UK population believe that plain packaging will not achieve its primary objective of reducing smoking rates (65 percent) and is a poor use of government resources (65 percent).

* ‘Three out of every five UK adults (58 percent) believe plain packaging will lead to an increase in the number of illegal cigarettes sold in the UK.

* ‘If the UK Government had yet to decide on plain packaging and was considering whether to introduce it today, 69 percent of UK adults believe they should either reject the policy (35 percent) or wait for more evidence of its effectiveness from Australia (34 percent).

* ‘72% of respondents believe the Government would either a) fix a policy review/ignore evidence that went against a preferred policy (29 percent), or b) be reluctant to change their preferred policy if the evidence was weighted against it (43 percent).’

Respondents reportedly were critical also of how the Bill became law:

* ’68 percent think the Government changed the decision-making requirements it had previously set out in order to push it through.

* ‘72% think it was important for the Government to research the links between illegal tobacco and terrorist organizations.’

JTI said that, one year on, the latest data showed no impact on tobacco sales or smoking rates in the UK, and that counterfeit standardized packs had been discovered on high streets as early as one month after the implementation of standardized packaging.

‘An analysis conducted by JTI on UK counterfeit samples shows that tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels far exceed those allowed in the country,’ the note said. ‘But this is only the tip of the iceberg: in some cases, counterfeits have been found to contain heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead, along with other toxic contaminants: asbestos, mold, dust, dead flies, rat droppings – and even human excrement.’

“Plain packaging is failing in the UK, as it has in Australia and France, and as we always warned that it would,” states Jonathan Duce, head of external communications at JTI’s global headquarters in Geneva.

“Rather than wait for results to emerge from Australia – as originally committed to by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – the government pushed through a policy without waiting for hard evidence or research into the consequences. Plain packaging should never have been introduced in the UK, and other governments considering the measure should think twice before importing this failed experiment.”

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Category: Breaking News, Packaging, People, Regulation

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