An Australian parliamentary committee has recently rejected claims made by cigarette manufacturers that there is “no evidence to suggest that plain packaging will cut smoking rates.”
With the UK Government considering plain packaging as the next step on the Tobacco Control agenda after the display ban, retailers in this country need to be aware of what governments in other countries are doing. Since the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention For Tobacco Control (FCTC) was set up in 1997, the UK has been a significant supporter, with Parliament passing one law after another that have kept this country in step with the treaty.
- The protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry
- Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke
- Regulation of the contents of tobacco products and of tobacco product disclosures
- Packaging and labelling of tobacco products
- Education, communication, training and public awareness
- Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
- Demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation
So where does this leave us, the UK cigarette retailers? We have seen that the substantial lobbying campaign that occurred during the passage of the display ban legislation eased some of the draconian regulations that were first proposed but did not stop the ban becoming law.
I suspect that the Australian government’s plain packaging wish – if or when it becomes law – will be the start of the process under which the FCTC will recommend many countries bring forward legislation for plain tobacco packaging.
Tobacco and cigarettes have been and still are an expected product in the convenience and CTN channel. For a significant number of retailers tobacco remains a key part of their business, but for many retailers the profit that tobacco generates is not a major contributor to their bottom line.
The question for me is what do we do with our tobacco space when the category in our store is no longer viable?