The government commissioned an independent review into introducing plain packaging laws for cigarette packets after it became mandatory in Australia in 2012.
BAT believes Australia’s policy has been unsuccessful, going as far to suggest that it increases illicit trade and could actually have the opposite to the desired effect, resulting in an increase among young people taking up smoking.
“Plain packaging increases illicit trade, illicit trade sells for lower prices than legitimate cigarettes and it sells in channels were there’s no control,” Ben Stevens, finance director of BAT is quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“So it’s perfectly possible that increasing plain packaging would increase youth smoking.”
The second largest tobacco company in the world previously explained its opposition to the proposals, saying in a statement: “Plain packaging is a policy with potentially significant consequences, not all of which are well understood. We believe governments need to think proposals like this through very carefully and conduct more robust research.”
“We firmly believe that tobacco products are only suitable for adult consumers and do not want children to smoke. But there is no proof to suggest that the plain packaging of tobacco products will be effective in discouraging young people to smoke, encouraging existing smokers to quit, or increasing the effectiveness of health warnings.”
BAT faces further EU regulation after the European Parliament approved a Tobacco Products Directive that will ban menthol, packets with fewer than 20 cigarettes and increase the size of health warnings to 65% of the packaging.
The plain packaging debate continues with a lively round table discussion featured in the March issue of Packaging News.