Tobacco Packaging War Waging in the Uk

Tobacco Packaging War Waging in the UK

The British government is considering plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco industry giants are none too pleased.  Government officials state that there is evidence that plain packaging may actually help people quit smoking, while at the same time allowing health warnings and graphics to be enlarged on the package.  Of course, the move to plain packaging would, for all practical purposes, kill years and years of branding by the cigarette companies, and they are not quietly accepting the possibility of such a move.

The tobacco industry is arguing that not only would plain packaging increase illegal tobacco trade, but that the evidence that plain packaging changes smoking habits is simply not true.  Australia has already introduced plain packaging in the tobacco industry and the impact in Australia was to be reviewed by the British government prior to the implementation of the program in the UK.  However, research by different groups has led to different results, with one side arguing the plain packaging is working and the other side arguing that it is not.  

The effect of plain packaging in the UK would generally mean more expense for tobacco companies in creating plain packaging for one area of the world and regular packaging for other areas, as the companies are unlikely to give up their branding in any area unless forced to do so.  For packagers, this could also mean a simple change to the packaging process or the need to acquire additional machinery to handle the different packaging.    
While cigarette packaging is a little out of the arena of Liquid Packaging Solutions, there is an interesting side note to this story.  The response to plain packaging from the tobacco industry comes a week after news that children under 18 would be banned from buying electronic cigarettes.

As an emerging market in the United States, e-cigarettes are quickly and, for the industry, dangerously following in the footsteps of the tobacco industry.  The ban for children under 18 ties e-cigarettes to the tobacco industry, just as recent bans in some bigger cities have done the same.  The UK battle against tobacco is only one of many, arguably intending to do away with tobacco products in the long run.  Countries like Germany have begun programs for schoolchildren to visit hospitals to see the long-term effects of smoking first hand.  A focus on health and health care around the world has led to a more concerted effort to warn consumers and remove cigarettes from many public spaces.  To avoid these same battles and likely the same fate, e-cigarette manufacturers and packagers need to spotlight the differences between their products and tobacco products and take the focus off the fact that both are termed "cigarettes".