Smokers ignore plain packaging

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I HAVE to question whether chief executive Sheila Duffy personally believes the propaganda she promotes on behalf of Ash Scotland (Letters, 12 January).

Yet again she quotes unidentified research evidence to claim that children far too young to purchase cigarettes are attracted to smoking by packaging. Cancer Research UK produced precise proof that even teenage smokers interviewed showed no interest in or recognition of packaging displayed to them.

She further describes as “discredited” arguments that plain packaging increases smuggling and cross-border trade, and claims that the Australian experiment with plain packaging is already showing “beneficial impacts”, with no harm to small businesses. Yet the international auditing firm KPMG reports that the illegal Australian market share has risen to 13 per cent, approaching that of Imperial Tobacco, the world’s biggest producer. Another survey reveals trading loss in three in four shops.

After a year’s plain packaging, sales of legal cigarettes have indeed dipped slightly, but overall consumption has actually increased – the first time it has failed to fall since 2009. KPMG estimates that illicit imports into Australia have increased by a massive 154 per cent over the year.

Add in Ash Scotland’s recent “research” into the imaginary danger to children from smokers in play areas, which didn’t even claim existence of such a problem, and it becomes somewhat difficult to justify taxpayer funding for their salaries.

Robert Dow, Tranent