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Anti-smoking activists launch campaign to replace branded packs with "plain packs"

Tue 17th January, 2012

Campaigners are calling for "glamorous" packaging on cigarettes to be replaced by plain packets with larger health warnings.

Health experts from Australia and Scotland joined public health directors in Bristol to launch a new campaign on tobacco packaging.

It is the first campaign of its kind and has been launched to gather responses ahead of the Government launching a consultation on tobacco packaging in March.

Kate Knight of Smokefree SouthWest – the organisation that aims to reduce smoking in the region – is leading the campaign.

“We feel the tobacco industry is using packaging as a way of marketing their product,” she said. 

“They have no other way of marketing now and are using the most glamorous packaging possible. Using hologram effects and make-up style packaging targets young women.

“There is evidence that if tobacco is packaged in plain packets with standardised packaging new people don’t take up smoking. This is not about existing smokers but young people starting to smoke.”

Professor Simon Chapman from Sydney University was among the speakers, having been involved with the campaign for plain packets in Australia, where it is due to be brought in later this year.

“Internal tobacco industry documents were repeatedly talking about packaging as the last frontier of advertising and they are emphatic about it. They talk about how when you cannot advertise in any other way – in Australia as in Britain there is a total advertising ban – the pack becomes advertising.”

Prof Chapman said that in Australia plain packaging will mean packets are an olive-brown colour and the health warnings will be increased in size, but will still have the brand name on them.

Director of public health for the region, Gabriel Scally, said: “The tobacco industry wants to continue to sell its deadly product to attract people to buy it.

“We want to do everything we can to avoid people getting addicted to tobacco and to see it for something dangerous.”

A spokesman for Bristol-based Imperial Tobacco said: “We support tobacco regulation that is reasonable, proportionate and evidence based.

“There is, however, no credible evidence to support the notion that tobacco packaging encourages people to smoke.

“We also have concerns about the unintended consequences of badly thought-out tobacco legislation. Making all tobacco products available in the same, easy-to-copy plain packaging would lead to a significant increase in counterfeit products.

“We await the Government’s consultation in the spring and will be making our views clear as part of our response.”

Smokefree South West is encouraging people to share their views about tobacco packaging through a dedicated new website.

Views shared through www.plainpacksprotect.co.uk will be passed on for inclusion in the Government’s consultation.

Source: Bristol Evening Post (17 January 2012)

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