EU Committee Votes No To Plain Packaging

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed today’s news that a key Committee of the European Parliament has rejected proposals to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products throughout the European Union. SGF hopes the decision will influence the Scottish Government to scrap similar plans.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted against adopting plain packaging as part of a range of proposals to revise the European Tobacco Products Directive.

Chief Executive John Drummond said,

“The Committee has taken a very common sense approach in dropping these measures from the proposed revision of the Tobacco Products Directive. We know that Scottish Government is in favour of introducing plain packaging but we hope that this decision – and the decision by the UK Government to drop the same measures from the recent Queen’s speech - will now encourage them to take an equally sensible approach and abandon any plans for plain packaging.

SGF has argued consistently that packaging does not influence young people to begin smoking and that such a measure could simply make it easier for criminals to counterfeit and sell illicit tobacco products. It has been estimated that responsible retailers could be losing up to £30,000 in income per year to the illicit trade.

However, the ENVI Committee has backed proposals to ban menthol cigarettes and place restriction so other flavourings. SGF has expressed strong concern that this will simply create a ready-made market for illicit tobacco products. HMRC estimates that in 2010-2011almost £2bn was lost to the UK Treasury due to tobacco smuggling and that 1.7 billion illegal cigarettes were seized in 2011-2012.