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Imperial Tobacco Refute Packaging Claims

Imperial Tobacco is refuting claims that plain packaging in Australia is changing people’s smoking behaviour.

Spokesperson, Brendan Walker, says the company has not seen any decline in volumes in tobacco products manufactured for and sold in Australia.

Imperial Tobacco New Zealand manufactures cigarettes and tobacco products for sale in New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Walker also noted reports from the Australian Association for Convenience Stores which recently announced the volume of tobacco sold in their members’ outlets has not been impacted.

“We’ve said all along that plain packaging will not achieve its objectives,” Mr Walker said.

However, plain packaging is playing into the hands of criminals. A recent report by KPMG reveals that illicit trade in tobacco products in Australia has increased from 11.8% of total consumption in 2012 to 13.3%. This represents over AUD 1 billion in lost revenue for the Government.

“The same scenarios could play out in New Zealand if we introduce plain packaging here,” Mr Walker said. “No real effect on smoking rates, but an increase in black market tobacco.”

Mr Walker noted a recent study published by the Australian Medical Association (AMA):

The study found that:
•          There is as yet no evidence that the change to plain packaging has led people to quit;
•          Nor, the authors admitted, were they able to “tease apart” whether it was the plain packaging itself, or larger health warnings, that may be influencing the perceptions of smokers;
•          And, underlining the need for caution when assessing the effectiveness of plain packaging, the study found there were “no significant differences in the proportion of plain and branded pack smokers who thought frequently about the harms of smoking or thought smoking harms had been exaggerated”.


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