UK cigarette ads claim no evidence for plain packaging

Plain Cigarette Pack

Some unusual cigarette ads are going to appear in UK-based publications over the following weeks. Such advertisements are the measures of Japan Tobacco International that launched £2 million campaign because it throws doubt upon the UK government’s consultation on cigarette plain packaging.

Currently, only Australia has passed legislation according to that all tobacco products must be sold in standardised plain packets, without brand logos, images and colours. The law will be brought into effect in December 2012.

Plain Cigarette Pack

The front of cigarette plain packaging with graphic image and text warning

The consultation on plain packaging is established to close next month. The DOH posted a statement on its website: “The Government has an entirely open mind on standardised packaging and Health Ministers want to maximise the opportunity that people have to provide their views and evidence.”

It is not a surprise that JTI is not the first cigarette maker to struggle against proposals on plain cigarette packaging enforcement. In November 2011, when the Australian government passed its plain packaging legislation, Philip Morris Limited announced that it went to law against the government. The company came up with its main argument. It stated that the Government has passed this legislation, but did not demonstrate that it will bring positive effects at reducing smoking.

Imperial Tobacco as well stated that cigarette packaging has never been considered as a motive why children take up smoking or why adult smokers continue smoking.

A few years ago, David Hammond and Carla Parkinson at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada revealed that even slight differences in cigarette packaging can demonstrate how they affect consumers. People were more likely to buy bright-coloured packets.

Such branding tricks really do change buying habits of smokers. A study of 12,000 smokers found that over a third of smokers buy cigarettes branded as “light” on the understanding that they are healthier.

The UK government measures to protect potential smokers from cigarette branding are likely to be implemented. On April 6 this year, displays of cigarettes and tobacco products had to be removed at large shops and supermarkets in England.

UK Health Minister Anne Milton said that the ban on displaying cigarettes and tobacco will help youth not to take up smoking and adults in England to quit the habit.

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