Plain packaging of cigarettes is to be introduced in the UK tomorrow, following the failure of leading tobacco firms to challenge the legislation in the UK’s High Court today.
Packs of ten cigarettes will also disappear from the nations shelves tomorrow, followed by menthol cigarettes, which are due to be phased out over the next four years under new rules on tobacco handed down from Brussels.
Small packets of rolling tobacco have also been outlawed, and will now have to weigh a minimum of 30g, ironically to allow more space for the prominent health warnings which the government has slapped on all packaging.
And e-cigarettes, which industry insiders say can help smokers quit smoking, have also been hit by highly restrictive legislation as the European Commission believes they act as a gateway to smoking.
Anti-smoking lobbyists have welcomed the new rules, but critics have called the legislation “farcical,” warning that it will do nothing to reduce the number of smokers and is conversely likely to fuel black market sales.
“Logic dictates that with larger packets and thus having more cigarettes to hand, people will consume more,” Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs said.
“Consumers will also see costs suddenly sky-rocket and given how inelastic demand for tobacco is, this will probably foster an even more active black market.”
He added: “And the ban on menthol cigarettes is equally nonsensical. Far from ‘flavoured’ cigarettes appealing to young people, the market share of such products is almost inconsequential. This marks the start of the anti-smoking lobby’s incremental prohibition tactic – a tactic that history will tell you has never worked.”
Controversial plain packaging rules will come into play tomorrow, following the failure of four tobacco companies to challenge the rules at the High Court today. The companies argued that the new law – which will see all branded packaging axed and replaced with a drab olive colour scheme, prominent health warnings and standardised text denoting the brand name – infringes their intellectual and trademark property rights.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, called the “judgement “very disappointing.
“Plain packaging treats adults like children and teenagers like idiots. Everyone knows the health risks of smoking and very few people start because of the packaging,” he said.
“Plain packaging has nothing to do with health. It’s gesture politics designed to appease public health campaigners who are forever searching for new ways to force smokers to quit.
“Plain packaging is a declaration of war on consumers because the aim is to denormalise not just the product but also millions of adults who enjoy smoking and don’t want to quit.”
He warned: “If you don’t smoke but enjoy alcohol, sugary drinks and convenience food you should be concerned by this judgement because the health police are coming for you too.”
E-cigarettes have also been hit by the new regulations, as any product containing more than 20mg of nicotine for every millilitre of liquid – currently about a quarter of the market – will no longer be permissible. The European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) also contains draconian rules relating to the licensing and development of products, which industry leaders say could kill off the market.
The TBD states: “Electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and ultimately traditional tobacco consumption, as they mimic and normalise the action of smoking.
“For this reason, it is appropriate to adopt a restrictive approach to advertising electronic cigarettes and refill containers.”
But a study conducted by Public Health England, and funded by the Department of Health found that vaping (smoking e-cigarettes, which give off water vapour instead of smoke) is 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco smoking, and 40 per cent cheaper.
Richard Hyslop, Chief Executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association told Breitbart London: “The Tobacco Products Directive, which comes into force today, will have a significant impact on the vape industry and vapers [people who smoke e-cigarettes] across the UK.
“This directive will restrict innovation and reduce product range; it will make it harder for smokers to switch to vaping and send some vapers back to smoking; some businesses will be forced to close; and it will lead to a rise in the informal economy.
And he said that the directive falls down at the most basic level for European legislation, as it does not even harmonise rules across the Member States. Consequently, the EU has failed to create a true free trade area for e-cig products.
“UK companies cannot comply with TPD requirements for national reporting as these regimes do not exist, thus preventing legitimate cross border sales, for those countries that will continue to allow such trade,” he said. “This free trade embargo is further enforced with needless bureaucratic national reporting fees, charged by every EU nation for the same products set.”