Talking about tobacco

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
March 16, 2011, 12:17 AM GMT+0

Some of our British panellists have been discussing the Government’s new anti-smoking measures this week, with opinion divided over plans to ban the display of tobacco merchandise in shops by 2015, as well as the currently-debated proposal to get rid of cigarette branding in favour of plain packaging.

There was some support among panellists involved for Government measures, while others thought they wouldn’t make any difference in people’s smoking habits, and some even felt that the rules could have a negative effect. A few people questioned how appropriate it was for the Government to be implementing such targeted ideas given the revenue that the tobacco industry generates for the country.

Some of our panellists applauded the Government’s efforts and agreed that they would discourage smoking

Others weren’t convinced that banning tobacco displays or changing cigarette packaging would have much impact

There was also feeling that the measures could have the reverse effect and actually make cigarettes seem more appealing or increase the undesirable counterfeit trade of cigarettes

Questions were also raised about the Government’s involvement with the tobacco industry

Plans for packaging

The Government has recently announced new legislation that will mean that all shops will have to hide any tobacco by 2015, amid continued discussions over whether to ban branded cigarette packaging.

Similar display bans are already in place in Canada, Ireland, Iceland and Finland but the introduction of plain packaging, if it goes ahead, would mark England apart as having some of the toughest anti-smoking measures anywhere in Europe. Support for the proposals has been swift from campaign group, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), whose representative, Martin Dockrell, emphasised the potential benefits of hidden cigarettes for smokers struggling to quit. ‘Every morning when the ex-smoker goes into a shop to buy a paper the tobacco companies are waiting for them, putting their brand in front of them,’ he emphasised.

However, the tobacco industry has spoken out in opposition, with Debbie Corris of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance arguing, ‘If anything, plain packaging will cause a problem with more counterfeiting - plain packets are not that difficult to copy - while banning displays will hit smaller retailers hard’.