News & Comment

New regulations "infantilise" consumers

Tue 16th May, 2017

The new regulations on tobacco "infantilise" consumers and will make no difference to public health, says Forest.

The new rules, which must be fully implemented by this weekend, include a minimum pack size of 20 cigarettes, a minimum pouch size of 30g rolling tobacco, no branded packaging for cigarettes and rolling tobacco, and larger health warnings.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, which campaigns for smokers' rights, said: "The new regulations treat adults like naughty children. They infantilise consumers by attacking freedom of choice and personal responsibility.

"Adults and even teenagers are under no illusions about the health risks of smoking. Consumers don't need larger health warnings to tell them what they already know.

"Banning smaller packs is a pathetic attempt to target the less well-off in the hope they will be forced to quit, but smokers will soon adapt and buy the larger packs instead.

"If you're trying to cut down it will be harder now because the option of buying a smaller number of cigarettes has been taken away."

Clark was also scathing about standardised packaging. He said:

"The idea that people smoke because of the packaging is absurd. There's no evidence that plain packaging has any impact on youth smoking rates and without that there's no justification for it."

He added: "The new regulations are a disgraceful attempt to denormalise both the product and legitimate consumers.

"There's no evidence they will have the slightest impact on public health.

"Politicians and tobacco control campaigners are grasping at straws if they think people will give up something they enjoy just because the packaging has changed."

Clark said the new government should review the measures as soon as the UK has left the European Union.

"With the exception of plain packaging all these regulations were imposed on the UK by the EU's Tobacco Products Directive.

"Brexit will give the government the chance to review the impact of these policies and, where necessary, amend or repeal regulations that deliberately discriminate against millions of adult consumers."

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