A year after its controversial introduction, plain packaging is failing in the UK, claims The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA).
Reducing smoking levels was a key objective behind the introduction of plain packaging since its inception in May 2017. But findings from The Smoking Toolkit Study (STS), a national programme run by University College London and endorsed by the Department of Health which has tracked key indicators around smoking in England since 2006, reveal an upturn in smoking levels. Fake plain packaged cigarettes have been found across the UK whilst new polling shows that plain packaging is encouraging millions of smokers to buy from the black market.
The Smoking Toolkit Study found that on a three-month rolling average, from December 2017 to March 2018, smoking rates in England were higher than for the same time last year before plain packaging was fully introduced.
TMA also carried out an anti-illicit trade poll of 4,480 smokers in April and May 2018 which revealed that 27% agreed that plain packs made them more likely to buy untaxed tobacco and 34% agreed that minimum pack sizes made them more likely to buy untaxed tobacco.
Giles Roca, Director General of the TMA, said: “The recent evidence shows that plain packaging appears to be failing in the UK like everywhere it has been introduced. It appears not to be delivering the health outcomes it was claimed it would bring while at the same time is proving to be a boon to the black market by encouraging smokers to buy from illicit sources. The Government should recognise that plain packaging is failing and undertake a full and immediate review of this policy.”