A JTI-Macdonald Corp. Initiative. (It’s always best to see both sides.)
(It’s always best to see both sides.) A JTI-Macdonald Corp. Initiative.

02 Both Sides of the Plain Cigarette Packaging Debate

Brands aren’t at fault, stop blaming them

Brands are the consumers’ cue for quality and consistency. Take brands away and it merely makes them seek out an alternative.

In a recent radio interview, Australian professor, Sinclair Davidson, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, points to the growing evidence that plain packaging isn’t working.

Smoke and mirrors? Australian professor says plain tobacco packaging doesn’t work – Click here to listen

Faking it

With the introduction of plain packaging, it wasn’t only the anti-tobacco community that was happy. The policy was a boon for counterfeiters – as the Adam Smith Institute points out in their 2012 paper, ‘Plain Packaging. Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation’1, nothing is easier to template and copy than standardized design, shape and colour of a product.

What the ban on branding has done in Australia is confuse profit for volume. Price became the main factor when choosing between brands – resulting in consumers looking for the cheapest product. For many smokers, the cheapest products will be from the illegal market.

fake or real

It’s clear from the ban in Australia that ‘cheaper brands’ translates to counterfeit brands and sources of illicit tobacco2.

Furthermore, plain packaging had no impact on the overall size of the cigarette market in Australia, although it has significantly reduced choice3. In fact, in four out of five states, smoking prevalence has actually increased4. This hasn’t prevented the Australian Department of Health claiming that: “The measure has begun to achieve its public health objectives of reducing smoking.” In fact, it has simply shifted the issue elsewhere5, with the Australian Crime Commission’s report showing that the illegal tobacco trade is flourishing with organised crime gangs6.

It’s just one of the unintended consequences of a ban on brands. Plain and simple.

Tell the government what you think by emailing your MP.


1 Snowden, C. (2012). Plain Packaging. Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation. Adam Smith Research Trust, pp9.

2, 4 KPMG. (2013). Illicit Tobacco in Australia. KPMG LLP, pp28. Click here to view  Retrieved 19 July 2016

3 Reuters. (2014). Australia tobacco sales increase despite plain packaging. Available at: Click here to view Last accessed 8 August 2016

4 KPMG. (2013). Illicit Tobacco in Australia. KPMG LLP, pp28. Click here to view  Retrieved 19 July 2016

5 Reynolds, E. (2016). Illegal tobacco industry flourishing in Australia as government hikes taxes. News Limited. Available at: Click here to view Last accessed 9 August 2016

6 Australian Crime Commission. (2015). Organised Crime in Australia 2015. Australian Crime Commission, pp69-70. Available at: Click here to view Retrieved 9 August 2016


 

What Health Canada has to say on why we should have plain packaging on tobacco products

As part of a policy released in early October, 20151, the Liberal government committed to:

“[…] do our part to help Canadian children live healthier lives, with less exposure to known health risks.

“To help families make better food choices, we will:

  • introduce new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, similar to those now in place in Quebec;
  • bring in tougher regulations to eliminate trans fats, similar to those in the U.S., and to reduce salt in processed foods; and
  • improve food labels to give more information on added sugars and artificial dyes in processed foods.

“To help Canadian children avoid and manage known health risks, we will increase funding to the Public Health Agency of Canada by CAD$15 million in each of the next two years, to support a national strategy to increase vaccination rates and raise awareness for parents, coaches, and athletes on concussion treatment. This will be based on the best science and will support existing provincial and territorial efforts.

“We will introduce plain packaging requirements for tobacco products, similar to those in Australia and the United Kingdom.”

In March 2016, the Public Health Agency of Canada posted a public tender for the ‘Cost-benefit analysis of the plain packaging of tobacco products’2, as it began a three-month consultation on the subject.

The request states: “The Government of Canada has committed to introducing plain packaging requirements for tobacco products, similar to those in Australia and the United Kingdom. Such measures could consider prohibiting elements such as brand colours, logos, and graphics on tobacco packages.”

A consultation document is available that outlines the potential measures for regulating the appearance, shape and size of tobacco packages and of tobacco products3.

Tell the government what you think by emailing your MP.

1 Liberal Party. (2015). Healthier Kids. Available at: Click here to view Last accessed 25 July 2016

2 Public Works and Government Services Canada. (2016). Cost-benefit analysis of the plain packaging of tobacco products (1000179835). Tender Notice. Available at: Click here to view Last accessed 25 July 2016

3 Government of Canada. (2016). Consultation on “Plain and Standardized Packaging” for Tobacco Products; Potential measures for regulating the appearance, shape and size of tobacco packages and of tobacco product. Available at: Click here to view Last accessed 25 July 2016

Welcome to the ‘Both sides of the argument’ website.

Debating the proposed policy on tobacco packaging in Canada

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Research

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