Reacting to the Government’s announcement that MPs will vote on plans to introduce Plain Packaging for tobacco products before the next election, Mike Ridgway, director of The Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance (CPMA), said: “This was a surprising announcement by the Government and appears to have made for political reasons rather than for anything linked to health or as a measure to reduce smoking uptake. Throughout this whole lengthy debate the government has consistently stated that any additional regulation of tobacco products must be based upon evidence but where is the conclusive evidence that packaging influences smoking trends.
“With claim and counterclaim being made by both sides it is clear that the evidence is inconclusive and more data is needed to support an ‘ attack ‘ on branded products in this way and the intellectual property rights linked to them.
“The packaging industry stands in the middle of this situation and will undoubtedly be the loser if the proposals become law and if reductions in specification complexity, added value and loss of production value take place. Throughout discussions with politicians and tobacco control advocates over many months it is clear that the role of packaging is greatly misunderstood and with it the contribution it makes to an industrialised economy.
“The trends being witnessed within tobacco will stand as a model for further regulatory pressures in other market sectors and must be resisted further when seeing the result of regulation being piled upon regulation. Where will it all end?
“Even at this late stage and with more official information emulating from Australia , backed up by Government statistics , it will be hoped that pressure on the Government to follow its original decision to act on evidence will be undertaken rather than a dubious policy that attracts headlines.”