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Forest rejects claim that plain packaging was responsible for “accelerating” decline in cigarette sales

Forest has rejected claims that plain packaging was responsible for a significant decline in smoking in the UK.

According to research by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, reported by the Guardian, cigarette sales have decreased by about 20m a month after plain packaging rules and tougher taxes were introduced three years ago.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:

“Implying that UK cigarette sales declined because of plain packaging is an interesting interpretation of the evidence.

“According to ONS figures, the smoking rate fell significantly more in the years before the introduction of plain packaging than in the period since.

“Smoking rates have been in decline for decades, regardless of measures like smoking bans or plain packaging, and it’s mostly to do with education or, more recently, smokers switching to e-cigarettes.

“According to figures released by the ONS last week there are still 6.9 million smokers in the UK, one in seven of the adult population.

“Many adults will continue to smoke because they enjoy it. Grandstanding policies like plain packaging have minimal impact because what matters is the product not the packaging.”

Simon Clark

Mission & Vision



Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.


Our key aims and objectives are to:

  • counteract the “denormalisation” of smoking, and smokers
  • prevent further restrictions on the purchase and consumption of tobacco
  • establish closer links with other tobacco-friendly groups at home and abroad
  • build support among consumers of tobacco and other similarly threatened groups
  • highlight the increasingly intrusive nature of Big Government in the lives of private individuals