Sheila Duffy of Ash (Letters, 12 September) uses general bland statements to support the opinion that plain packaging affects smoking trends.
The evidence from Australia is inconclusive and following research I carried out during a visit earlier this year I found that it has no influence on smoking habits across all social categories.
There is no of evidence that plain packaging reduces levels of smoking.
The major influence on any reduction in Australian smoking rates is as a result of tax increases being introduced but here is the scenario that the likes of Ash do not accept in that this drives and fuels the illicit trade with total smoking levels and volumes remaining constant.
The situation in Australia is now that one in seven cigarettes is now illicit and Scotland and the UK would follow this trend once plain packaging is introduced because it is such a profitable illegal activity.
It is inappropriate for Ash to say a “healthy” reduction is taking place because of plain packaging, because existing packaging acts as a barrier to the illicit trade, through its complex manufacturing processes whereas plain packaging will entice young people to cheap illegal products.
The way to tackle smoking rates, especially among young people, is by education and not by ineffective regulation, which has proven to be ineffective.
Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance
Ilkley, West Yorkshire