Tobacco industry claims on cigarette packaging are nonsense

Plain Cigarette Pack

Facts in the review – already confirmed in recent tobacco industry papers – demolishes reasons against the implementation of plain packages and demonstrates that counterfeit producers find all current packs easy to fake. Plain, standardised packages are not likely to result in a rush of new counterfeiters creating more packs.

The review by Luk Joossens – who has advised the World Bank, the European Commission and World Health Organization on illegal tobacco trade – was made by Cancer Research UK as the authorities examine the benefits and disadvantages of plain packaging after a public discussion.

It demonstrates that illegal packs are so low-cost to make they can hardly become much lower priced and plain packaging will not considerably have an effect on their final price.

The total cost of production of a 20-pack of illegal cigarettes is about 10 to 15 pence – of which up to a third is determined to be on packaging. They are usually sold in the UK for about £3.

The review as well indicates that it is successful government measure that has been effective in cutting the illegal trade.

UK taxes have not been paid on 9% of cigarettes smoked in the United Kingdom. This has dropped from 21% in 2000/01 but for those concentrated on health it needs to drop further.

Luk Joossens, review author and international expert on illegal tobacco trade, said: “The cigarette companies states that plain packs would be easier to fake.  The fact is that all packages are easy to fake and that counterfeiters are able to supply high quality packaging at affordable prices in a short time. Plain packaging will not make any difference to the illegal business.”

Australia is the first country to place health smoking warnings on all tobacco products. Other countries are likely to follow with New Zealand strongly indicating it may be next.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, said: “The cigarette companies has a track record of assisting smuggling and often says systems that reduce smoking rates will raise smuggling, even though smuggling has been decreasing for a decade. Statements that plain packaging will lead to a rush of illicit tobacco into the UK are absurd.

“The cigarette companies are making these statements while struggling with the idea of plain packs – the new plan it most fears. Placing all tobacco products in plain packs will minimize their attractiveness to youngsters and help result in fewer teenagers becoming hooked to cigarettes.

“The cigarette companies have no trustworthiness and should not accept any health projects that are intended to reduce smoking rates.  The companies hope the UK government will respond to the discussion as soon as possible. The answer is standardised packaging will not prevent everyone from using tobacco but it will give large numbers of teenagers one less motive to take up cigarettes.”


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