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No public desire for plain packaging say campaigners

Fri 6th March, 2015

Campaigners opposed to plain packaging of tobacco products have rejected claims there is strong public support for the measure.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, said:

"According to a Populus poll published last month the public doesn't view the government’s plain packaging proposals as a priority.

"The public wants parliament to prioritise tackling immigration and terrorism, not plain packaging of cigarettes.

"Plain packaging legislation is an ill-judged sideshow and a distraction from the real challenges the government faces before the end of this parliament."

He added:

"Two-thirds of respondents to the government's 2012 consultation, which attracted over 665,000 responses, and 99 per cent of responses to last year's consultation, opposed plain packaging.

"Given that level of opposition it's scandalous the government is pressing ahead with the policy."


For further comment:
Simon Clark 07774 781840

Notes to editors:
1. In February 2015 Populus asked more than 2,000 members of the public, on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 = not important at all and 10 = very important, the level of importance they attach to completing outstanding pieces of legislation facing the remainder of this parliament:

• "controlling the UK's borders and reducing immigration" (8.14)
• "tougher counter-terrorism and security laws" (8.08)
• “stopping human trafficking" (7.92)
• "improving access to affordable housing" (7.46)
• "making it easier for employers to take on apprentices" (7.10)
• "improving rail and train services" (6.43)
• "regulating the future of the fracking sector" (6.10)
• "introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" (3.51)

"Introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" was the lowest of any of the variables tested, with a mean importance rating of just 3.51. The closest variable, "regulating the future of the fracking sector", scored 6.10.

More than half (52%) of the general public awarded "introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" a mean score of 0-3 in terms of importance. Conversely, only one in ten (12%) awarded the issue a score of 8-10.

2. According to the report on the government's 16-week consultation on plain packaging in 2012, "In total, 665,989 campaign responses were received from 24 separate campaigns. Around two-thirds of campaign responses received were from people who are opposed to the introduction of standardised packaging (total of 427,888 responses) and one-third of campaign responses received were from people who are in support (238,101 responses)."

3. According to the summary report of the six-week consultation in 2014, published in February 2015, "A total of 137,711 responses were received, made up of 1,307 detailed responses from businesses, organisations, the public and health and social care professionals, and 136,404 campaign responses …" Ninety-nine per cent of the responses were against plain packaging.

4. With MPs due to vote on plain packaging legislation this month, members of the public and representatives of some of Britain’s leading think tanks and campaign groups recently spoke out against the measure. See 'Plain speaking on plain packaging':


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