The Maori party and other anti-smoking lobbyists want to force through plain packaging of tobacco…there are other moves from lobby groups to likewise force through plain packaging proposals in all sorts of areas…but let’s focus on tobacco.
There is no empirical evidence that it will work as is predicted, in fact there is more evidence to suggest that the opposite will occur. Plain packaging is actually an open invitation to the black market…and if you don’t believe me then have a good look at how criminals currently package methamphetamine and marijuana…you can’t get any plainer than a clear plastic baggie or a tinnie:
In addition to being heavy handed and without giving due consideration to previous regulation introduced into the sector, this legislation would give the UK a reputation as a bad place to do business, making it harder to attract investment. The proposal is also an open invitation to black market trade.
The tobacco sector is a prime example of this. A recent letter in The Times, signed by 23 former senior police officers, strongly reiterated the view that the introduction of plain packaging would encourage organised criminals to move into this area and sell these products to the unsuspecting public. Plain packaging would be far easier to copy and consumers would become less interested in whether goods were genuine or aware if they contained non-tobacco or even toxic substances.
It would not only erode volumes for bona fide producers and retailers (particularly small shops), but would also reduce government tax revenues, boost the criminal economy, stretch law enforcement agencies and present an increased health risk.
Additionally, by removing the sophisticated techniques used in tobacco packaging, price would be the only competitive factor in the market. So, ironically, these changes would have the effect of lowering selling prices, which could actually encourage levels of consumption to increase to the most vulnerable.
Young people would be able to access tobacco products with much more ease as the black market operates at car boot sales, unauthorised street markets, pub car parks and the like.
Furthermore, the proposals could also lead to an increase in intellectual property crime and counterfeiting due to the ease with which unbranded packaging could be copied.