New Study Shows Plain Cigarette Packaging Does Not Increase Use and Sale of Illegal Tobacco

GRO1048 p12-14 AnalysisLead.inddA new study from Australia’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer suggests there’s no evidence that the introduction of plain cigarette packaging has changed smokers’ buying habits, which means it hasn’t boosted the illegal sale and use of cigarettes — as the tobacco industry predicted.

“This research suggests that none of these scaremongering scenarios the tobacco industry predicted as part of its bid to stop plain packaging in Australia have eventuated,” said Kylie Lindorff, the policy manager of Quit Victoria.

Back in December 2012, Australia put legislature into motion that made tobacco companies use plain packaging on all tobacco products sold, offered for sale, or otherwise supplied in Australia. For about two years now, cigarette companies have had to remove all of their branding from their packages, and have only been able to print their company name in a predetermined size and font, along with health warnings and other legally mandated info on packs of smokes. Some plain cigarette packages even feature graphic pictures of cancer victims.

According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, the idea was to reduce the appeal of tobacco products to consumers and the ability to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking, while also making mandated health warnings more noticeable.

The study found that plain cigarette packaging hasn’t hurt small retailers, like convenience stores and corner shops, nor has it caused people to use illegal tobacco. There’s also no sign of cheaper, Asian brands flooding the market.

What’s more, a study published in July showed that fewer Australians are smoking since the introduction of plain packaging. The study found that the between 2010 and 2013, the nation’s percentage of daily smokers fell from 15.1% to 12.8% — a drop of 2.3 point.