Plain tobacco packaging moves one step closer

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) today slammed the Government’s decision to come out in favour of plain tobacco packaging.

In a statement this morning the FWD said if the Government went ahead it would be breaking all the rules of evidence-based regulation while ignoring the impact on business. “The move, which would remove manufacturers’ names and brand markings from cigarette packs, would burden the distributive trade with costs and confusion, despite the fact that products in wholesale premises cannot influence public attitudes to smoking, and that existing tobacco display rules already ensure that packs are only visible to tobacco traders,” it said.

The Government’s announcement that it was “minded to introduce regulations to provide for standardised packaging of tobacco”, followed Sir Cyril Chantler’s independent review into the likely effects of standardised packaging on public health, particularly for children, to the Government.

The Government said the report made a compelling case in favour of standardised packaging, which if introduced, would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health and that would include health benefits for children.
But FWD chief executive James Bielby said that evidence from around the world had not shown a clear health benefit from standardised packaging, but it was clear from the data coming out of Australia that businesses such as wholesalers and retailers were bearing the burden of implementation.

He added: “We are concerned that the Government is pushing ahead with regulation without proper regard to the impact it will have on Features > Business, particularly those parts of the supply chain where imposing plain packaging cannot possibly have an effect on smoking levels. We will be making our views on the wider implications of plain packaging known to the government over the coming months.”

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “Smoking kills nearly 80,000 people each year in England alone and our cancer outcomes stubbornly lag behind much of Europe. Quite apart from the enormous pressure this creates on the NHS, it is a cruel waste of human potential.

“Yet we know that the vast majority of smokers want to quit and even more tragically we also know that two thirds of smokers become addicted before they are 18. As a nation therefore we should consider every effective measure we can to stop children taking up smoking in the first place.”

She added that in order to ensure that the decision was properly and fully informed, the Department of Health would run a final short consultation so that any further or new views could be considered. “That consultation will include draft regulations so that it is clear what is intended. The Department of Health aims to publish this consultation by the end of April. The further consultation on standardised packaging will ensure that all stakeholders can see from the detail of draft regulations what standardised packaging would mean in practice and provide an opportunity for those with an interest to highlight anything new since the last consultation that is relevant to making a decision on this policy,” she added.

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