Scotland - plain cigarette packaging - may take the lead in tobacco control..

November 15, 2010 - Plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes have led to calls for Westminster (UK parliament) to transfer the power to control tobacco to Holyrood (Scottish parliament). The SNP (Scottish National Party) is closely following moves by Australia to bring in plain packaging for cigarettes, which the party is keen to emulate in Scotland.

However, any attempt to force tobacco companies to sacrifice individual branding in favour of plain wrapping and bigger health warnings would face a major hurdle, as it is still a matter reserved to Westminster. Critics and the tobacco lobby have warned that standardised packaging could be counterproductive, leading not only to a price war resulting in increased smoking rates thanks to cheap cigarettes but also a rise in counterfeiting.

Last night, an SNP spokesman said the party supported the idea of using plain packaging as a further attempt to reduce smoking rates in Scotland.

He said: “The SNP is favourably disposed to this idea, and if Westminster will not do it then the powers should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. “The SNP Government has already reacted to end cigarette displays in shops and a href="">increase the age of purchasing tobacco to 18, and it is important that we have the powers to do more in the interests of public health in Scotland.”

In April, Australian lawmakers confirmed the country would become the first nation to ban brand images and colours on cigarette packages. Promotional text would be limited to product names in standard colour, position, type style and size. (Australia - plain packages on all tobacco products within 2-years..

The World Health Organization (WHO) praised the action, but tobacco firms claimed there is no evidence the measures would reduce consumption.

Overall smoking rates in Scotland have fallen from 31% in 1999 to 24% in 2009, but are still as high as 45% in the most deprived areas of Scotland. "Glasgow effect" - prevalence of cigarette smoking impact on poor health..)

However, Dr Enrico Bonadio, a law lecturer at the University of Abertay, warned that plain packaging could provoke a price war, driving down costs and increasing smoking rates. “If the UK adopts plain packaging, a price war is a probability,” he said. “If there was a price war and the price goes down, the number of smokers would go up in Scotland. By reducing price, you stimulate consumption. It would be a boomerang effect. “With no logos, it would also be easier for counterfeiting by companies and criminals. That’s an argument used by opponents of plain packaging. It could be a problem. We need to consider the knock-on effects if plain packaging is brought in.”

Dr Crawford Moodie, of the Institute of Social Marketing at Stirling University, who gave a presentation to the European Commission on plain packaging, said the plan in Australia for dark brown packaging has been shown to increase the numbers quitting smoking. “Even if there was a price war,” he said, “plain packaging is still a major deterrent.

“Scotland has always been a champion for the UK and if it was in our capacity to introduce plain packaging or larger pictorial warnings, I think Scotland would likely introduce that.”

Anti-smoking group ASH Scotland last month published 33 recommendations, including plain packaging. A spokeswoman said: “We would like Scotland’s political parties to have a manifesto commitment to a tobacco-control strategy for Scotland ... as part of that strategy we would like to see the Scottish Government call for Westminster to introduce standardised, unbranded packaging of tobacco products.” (Scotland - ASH publishes recommendations for a new Scottish tobacco control strategy..)

The UK Department of Health reiterated its view, given in a June 2010 parliamentary answer, that more evidence is needed on the impact of plain packaging. (In Process: UK - Plain tobacco packaging still on agenda..)

Christopher Ogden, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, said: “The TMA is strongly opposed to the principle of plain packaging. Moves to prevent tobacco companies from exercising their intellectual property rights would place the Government in breach of legal obligations relating to ... international trade and European law.

“Plain packs are also likely to lead to further increases in the smuggling of tobacco products and plain packs would make it so much easier for a counterfeiter to copy than existing branded packs – making it even more difficult for a consumer to differentiate between genuine and counterfeit products.”

Reference: Cigarette branding faces Scottish ban to cut smoking rate, EXCLUSIVE: Tristan Stewart-Robertson,, 11/15/2010.

Scotland - related news briefs:
Scotland - Lady Dr. Eileen Crofton a leading anti-smoking campaigner and health advocate dies at 91..;
Scotland - ASH publishes recommendations for a new Scottish tobacco control strategy..;
Scotland - approximtely one-third have quit smoking when being paid to do so..;
Scotland - Imperial Tobacco loses attempt to overturn ban on cigarette displays and removal of vending machines..;
Scotland - mainly shopkeepers oppose tobacco display ban..;
Scotland - smoking ban produced benefits for people (i.e., children) who are not exposed to occupational tobacco smoke..;
Scotland - 90% of Scots back law that prosecutes adults for buying cigarettes for children..;
Scotland, Grampian Region - latest word, NHS Grampian hospital smoking clampdown delayed..;
Scotland - bribing people to live a healthy lifestyle..;
Scotland - Imperial Tobacco in legal action to stop ban on cigarette displays and vending machine removal..;
Scotland - tobacco industry says massive increase in illegal cigarettes..;
PAPER: Scotland Unhealthy risk factors those with lack of education/ low income..;
Scotland - renewing efforts to stop pregnant women from smoking..;
Scotland - cigarette smoking quit attempts increase by 35%..;
Scotland - retailers can provide input on future to ban the display of tobacco..;
Scotland - campaigners want more to be done to protect young people from passive smoking..;
Scotland - government no plans to ban smoking in cars and public places used by children..;
Scotland - smokers will be banned from fostering or adopting children, comments from Professor Banzhaf..;
Scotland - parliament votes to ban retail cigarette displays and vending machines..;
Scotland - health minister urges smokers to quit..;
Scotland - some men beginning to lead a healthier lifestyle and therefore living longer..;
Scotland - self-reporting of smoking by pregnant women underestimates true number of pregnant smokers..;
Scotland - tobacco firms claim proposed display ban is unnecessary..;
"Glasgow effect" - prevalence of cigarette smoking impact on poor health..;
Scotland - tobacco industry will try to stop attempts to curb sales to young people..;
Scotland - cigarette vending machines removal..;
Scottish politicans most have the courage to protect the health of their constituents..;
Scotland - small businesses given extra 2-years to remove tobacco displays..;
Northern Ireland - assembly approves ban on display of tobacco items..;
Scotland to ban cigarette displays and outlaw cigarette vending machines..;
Bar workers who smoke also benefit from smoking ban..;
17 countries in the world ban indoor smoking - ENFORCEMENT..;
England, Wales to ban tobacco displays in shops..;
Definite Health Benefits of Smoking Bans..;
Northern Ireland raising age for sale of tobacco from 16 to 18 joining the other three United Kingdom (UK) countries..;
Scotland proposes to implement more measures to discourage tobacco use including the banning of tobacco displays..;
Raise Age to 21 to Purchase Tobacco Products...

(United Kingdom)



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