Plain tobacco packaging back on the Government agenda

Unbranded packaging for tobacco products in wholesalers and cash and carries will add expense, delay and confusion to the distribution chain without achieving any reduction in youth smoking levels, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) said today following news that the Government has revived plans to bring in plain packaging legislation.

The FWD also repeated its call for an exemption on outer packaging as the Government announced it will set up a new independent review into cigarette packaging.

Wholesalers maintain that packaging which does not reach the point of sale does not influence consumer purchase but must be clearly branded to ensure trade customers get the right products. Existing display rules mean that tobacco products in cash and carry outlets must be sold from a separate room, open to tobacco traders only.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “Clear branding of products is absolutely vital in a large-scale distribution operation, and tobacco traders need to be able to select the products their customers demand. Outer packaging cannot influence purchase as consumers do not see it. Therefore we are asking the Government not to impose an operational burden on our members which will not help achieve the goals of the proposed legislation.”

Bielby added that new EU controls on tobacco packaging would also impose a burden on the supply chain. Controls which are intended to restrict the illicit trade in tobacco products should be targeted at criminals, not the legitimate distributors, he said.

*For full industry reaction to the new proposals see the December issue of Wholesale News.

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