The most pressing problem we currently have is the illegal trade in tobacco products – plain packaging will simply exacerbate this and increase the profits of the criminal gangs who are behind the trade. There is no robust evidence to show that packaging influences young people to start smoking, whereas the illicit and counterfeit tobacco results in young people starting to smoke and smoking more due to the lower price of illegal cigarettes.
Unfortunately, most young people who smoke obtain cigarettes via a “proxy purchase” – an adult purchases cigarettes for them. Packaging plays absolutely no part in this, with price being the main factor. We need a more effective enforcement of existing legislation before we go through a lengthy and contentious legislative process on plain packaging, which is likely to result only in a policy that is not fit for purpose.
John Drummond, Chief Executive, Scottish Grocers’ Federation, Edinburgh