JTI campaign slams plain cig pack plans

Benson & Hedges and Camel owner Japan Tobacco International is launching a £2m advertising campaign slamming the government plans to introduce plain tobacco packaging.

Japan Tobacco International

JTI, which also owns Silk Cut, will highlight the potential consequences of enforcing standardised cigarette packs in the UK.

The company claims the move would lead to an increase in black market cigarettes.

It aims to target government and business decision makers in a UK-wide press campaign running this weekend (9 July).

The ad campaign will claim that there is a lack of evidence to support the consultation process and suggests that there are better ways to address reducing smoking.

It aims to use a “questioning not protesting” tone to highlight the difference between “policy based evidence and evidence based policy”.

Martin Southgate, managing director for JTI UK, says: “There is a debate shaping up around standardised packaging and we are an important part of it. We are seriously concerned about the way the consultation has been managed from the start.

“I fail to see how making illicit trade easier can be seen as progress on reducing smoking.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley launched a consultation into how tobacco brands use logos and colours on packaging in April. It followed a ban on tobacco displays in small shops that came into force earlier this year.

The tobacco industry has long warned that any shift towards standardised packaging will increase the illegal trade of tobacco on the black market and do nothing to reduce smoking in the UK.

The company is calling for a “genuine and transparent” investigation that takes into account the consequences of the proposals for plain packaging and claims that industries beyond tobacco, such as FMCG and food and drink, are also “under attack with unnecessary red tape”.

It is not clear how the advertising campaign circumvents the ban on tobacco advertising, but a spokesman for JTI says the firm beleives the ads are compliant with all regulations and advertising codes.

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