Cancer Research UK steps up lobbying for plain cig packs

Cancer Research UK has stepped up its efforts to lobby for plain tobacco packaging claiming non-branded packs are a strong deterrent for smokers, but tobacco firm JTI disputes the evidence given by the charity.

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The charity cites a study carried out by Stirling University, which found smokers said they were more embarrassed and felt more negative smoking cigarettes from plain packs. Smokers reported smoking fewer cigarettes and thinking about quitting more when using plain packs.

The study asked 187 Scottish women smokers to carry packs of their normal cigarettes with the brand obscured by plain brown packaging to determine how the aesthetic appeal of cigarette packaging influenced them.

Cancer Research claims the study echoes a similar Australian study. Plain packs were introduced in the region in December 2012.

Dr Crawford Moodie, lead author from the University of Stirling, says: “Tobacco companies use slim, elegant packaging to target young women and have been successful in doing so. In contrast, public health initiatives have had limited impact.

 “Our research shows the importance that packaging has for young women. It offers an insight into how packaging could be used to help reduce the appeal of tobacco products rather than offering the tobacco industry a chance to market their product.”

JTI, which is currently running an advertising campaign highlighting what it says is a “lack of credible evidence” that plain packaging discourages people from taking up smoking and putting forward a number of other possible prevention methods, refutes the research.

Paul Williams, head of corporate affairs at JTI UK, says: “Once again we have been shown “research” by a known supporter of plain packaging which appears to have been designed to produce the findings they want to justify the policy they want.”

Two of Camel and Silk cut owner JTI’s recent ads have been banned by the ASA after complaints from Cancer Research they “exaggerated” claims.

The Government consultation on proposals to introduce plain packaging ended in August last year and the results have yet to be published. It has been reported that they may be revealed in the Queen’s Speech on 8 May.

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