As the Department of Health’s consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products closed (Friday 10th August), the British Brands Group and Anti-Counterfeiting Group both submitted responses.
John Noble, Director of the British Brands Group, stated, “Branding fulfils many significant, positive functions for consumers and markets. Take it away and consumers lose out and markets become commoditised, with price not quality being the influencing factor. We call on Government to consider the proposal very carefully, including all the likely negative effects.”
Removing branding from packaging is also expected to fuel the trade in counterfeits. Ruth Orchard, Director General of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, said, “Plain packaging will be welcomed by the serious organised criminals in charge of the global trade in fakes. The standard designs will be easier to replicate illegally and will make it harder for consumers to spot counterfeits. These carry greater health risks than the genuine item, so it is likely that this proposal will backfire. Such effects need to be integrated into Government thinking”.
The UK-wide ‘plain’ tobacco packaging consultation has received great public interest and as a result the original closing date was extended by a month, in order to allow more people to respond. The government will now consider the responses to the consultation before coming to a final decision on whether or not to introduce the standardised packaging across tobacco products.