ACS calls for urgent business impact assessment on tobacco plain packs

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ACS is calling on Government to undertake an urgent full assessment of wider impact of standardised packaging on businesses, following the statement by Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, that they are publishing regulations to introduce plain packaging in the UK.

ACS has already written to the Department for Business highlighting the impact in terms of costs and operational burdens, and the threat that the policy will encourage more customers to engage with the illicit trade. A copy of the letter is available here.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Tobacco plain packaging will have a significant negative impact on local shops. We are disappointed that although Ministers say they will consider these impacts, they have preempted this consultation with a statement that they intend to impose this measure.

“We have consistently urged Ministers to carefully weigh the projected health benefits of plain packaging against the proven burdens on business evident in Australia.”

A KPMG study, designed to provide a more robust measure of illicit trade in Australia, following the introduction of plain packaging, found Illicit tobacco consumption in Australia grew from 11.8% to 13.3% of total consumption in the 12 months to the end of June 2013. The study also revealed a large increase in the consumption of illicit manufactured cigarettes.

ACS also highlighted the burden that this measure would impose on shops that are already subject to a significant
compliance burden linked to the implementation of the ban on tobacco display.

Lowman said: “It would be reckless, and damaging to local shops, to impose plain packaging on top of the tobacco display ban which tens of thousands of small retailers still have to implement by April 2015.”

Following the Review’s recommendation, Government will be publishing regulations that would impose plain packaging in the UK that will be subject to consultation, they will also be seeking views on the wider
implications of this measure.