News & Comment

Poll: plain packaging not a priority says British public

Wed 11th February, 2015

According to a new poll commissioned by Forest, parliament should prioritise tackling immigration and terrorism, not plain packaging of cigarettes.

With less than ninety days to go until the 2015 general election, an exclusive poll commissioned by Forest has revealed that the public wants the outgoing parliament to complete its work on tackling immigration and strengthening counter-terrorism legislation rather than focus on the introduction of plain cigarette packaging. 

The House of Commons will be formally dissolved on 30th March, the last day outgoing Members of Parliament will be able to vote on outstanding legislation. Due to tight timescales the outgoing parliament will not complete all of its work, leading to many outstanding bills falling by the wayside. 
 
Populus asked more than 2,000 members of the public, on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 = not important at all and 10 = very important, the level of importance they attach to completing outstanding pieces of legislation facing the remainder of this parliament:
 
•  "controlling the UK's borders and reducing immigration" (8.14)

•  "tougher counter-terrorism and security laws" (8.08)

•  “stopping human trafficking" (7.92)

•  "improving access to affordable housing" (7.46)

•  "making it easier for employers to take on apprentices" (7.10)

•  "improving rail and train services" (6.43)

•  "regulating the future of the fracking sector" (6.10)

•  "introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" (3.51)

"Introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" was the lowest of any of the variables tested, with a mean importance rating of just 3.51. The closest variable, "regulating the future of the fracking sector", scored 6.10.

More than half (52%) of the general public awarded "introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" a mean score of 0-3 in terms of importance. Conversely, only one in ten (12%) awarded the issue a score of 8-10.

Other findings:

•  Those members of the public who have children awarded the "introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes" a mean importance rating of just 3.88.

•  Both men (3.35) and women (3.66) expressed low mean importance ratings on the issue of the "introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes".

•  Workers in both the public (3.98) and private (3.32) sectors attached little importance to the government pursing the "introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes".

Simon Clark, director of Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, said: “It’s clear the public don’t view the government’s plain packaging proposals as a priority.

“Evidence from Australia shows the policy hasn't worked, with teen smoking rates increasing by 36% from 2010 to 2013. 

"The only people to gain from the policy have been criminals and counterfeiters who have exploited it to avoid paying tax and undercut legitimate retailers. 

“Plain packaging legislation is an ill-judged sideshow and a distraction from the real challenges the government faces before the end of this parliament."

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