Irish and UK retailers take fight against plain packaging to Europe

Examples of plain packaging

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) in the UK and Ireland are supporting the French Confederation of Tobacconists by attending the massive retailers’ demonstration which is being held in Paris

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31 March 2015 | 0

Retailers from France, the United Kingdom and Ireland have united to call on the European Commission to halt plans by their respective Member States to adopt plain packaging for cigarettes.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) in the UK and Ireland are supporting the French Confederation of Tobacconists by attending the massive retailers’ demonstration which is being held in Paris today (31 March).

Retailers across Europe are united in their belief that this is a well-intentioned but misguided policy that holds a significant threat for jobs, small businesses and the wider economy.

Plain packaging legislation has been adopted in the UK and Ireland, and is set to go before the French Parliament shortly. However, since the policy’s introduction in Australia, which is still the only country to actually implement plain packaging 77% of retailers have reported negative impact on their business, consumption of illegal branded cigarettes is up by 154% and youth smoking rates have increased from 2.5% to 3.7%.

When the UK and Ireland notified the European Commission of their plans to proceed with plain packaging an unprecedented 10 EU Member States objected to this policy moving forward on the grounds that it contravenes internal market rules.

73% of French people think introducing plain packaging would not reduce smoking rates while 62% of people in Ireland support postponing the introduction of plain packaging and considering other alternatives to reduce youth smoking, such as education programmes, in its place.

NFRN National president Martyn Brown, said: “Plain packaging gives smugglers and counterfeiters the green light at the expense of public health and legitimate retailers. This policy contravenes the EU’s Internal Market rules and is most likely illegal under international law. We want to European Commission to intervene and stop this madness.”

NFRN Ireland’s Joe Sweeney, who is attending the protest in Paris, said: “NFRN members in Ireland and the UK have spent the past number of years attempting to engage with our national governments to ask them to adopt the common sense approach of waiting until we have hard evidence from Australian that plain packs actually work before implementing this but our arguments have fallen on deaf ears.

“Ireland and the UK are already among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to illicit trade but our governments seem to want to ignore all warnings that plain packaging will be a boon to the organised crime groups that run the smuggling racket on these islands. We are now calling on the European Commission to step in and put an end to this madness before it is too late.”

 

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