NEW RESEARCH: PLAIN PACKAGING AND SMALL TOBACCO PACKS BAN BOOSTING BLACK MARKET AS 20th MAY DEADLINE FOR MAJOR CHANGES TO UK TOBACCO MARKET NEARS

NEW RESEARCH: PLAIN PACKAGING AND SMALL TOBACCO PACKS BAN BOOSTING BLACK MARKET AS 20th MAY DEADLINE FOR MAJOR CHANGES TO UK TOBACCO MARKET NEARS

        

 

 

TMA NEWS RELEASE

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW RESEARCH: PLAIN PACKAGING AND SMALL TOBACCO PACKS BAN BOOSTING BLACK MARKET AS 20th MAY DEADLINE FOR MAJOR CHANGES TO UK TOBACCO MARKET NEARS

The day before major changes in the UK tobacco market are due to come into full effect, comprehensive new research has shown that the introduction of plain packaging and the ban on small tobacco packs is already driving people to buy cheap, black market tobacco.

In a series of questions put to consumers over the last five months as the new measures were being phased in, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) has tracked the impact of these regulations on smoker behaviour and found a growth in people buying from non-UK duty paid sources.

Key findings:

  • There was a 5% increase in smokers buying packs of 20 cigarettes from illicit sources and abroad in the last five months;
  • Smokers buying larger packs of hand rolling tobacco from illicit sources and abroad almost doubled with a7% increase;
  • There was a 6% increase in smokers buying online from social media and websites advertising cheap illegal tobacco;
  • There was a 1% increase in smokers buying any tobacco product from abroad, thereby avoiding UK duty;
  • In the final wave of the survey, the average price paid for a pack of 20 cigarettes from an illegal supplier was £5.63 – £1.72 less than the £7.35 sum which the government has used to set the minimum excise tax on a packet of 20 cigarettes.

Commenting on the findings Giles Roca, Director General of the TMA, said:

“It is clear from this research that plain packaging and the small packs ban, measures imposed by Europe and adopted by the UK Government, are already having an impact on smokers’ behaviour as they seek out cheaper alternatives from the black market and abroad.  It’s no surprise that our research points to a rise in the illicit market – this is exactly what happened in Australia when plain packaging was introduced in 2012.

“On banning small packs, which are particularly popular in the UK, independent research confirmed that such a move will cost the Treasury £2.1 billion in the first year, costing 11,190 jobs whilst even those in public health agree that it will lead to people smoking more, not less, tobacco.

“On plain packaging, a recent major independent review of 51 studies found no evidence that it acted to prevent youth-uptake – the chief justification why the measure was introduced in the UK. Whilst figures from France, that introduced plain packaging in January 2017, show cigarette consumption actually increased compared to last year when branding was allowed. In March alone the French bought four million packets of cigarettes, over four percent more than during the same period last year.

“These measures were introduced not based on evidence or hard fact but on the dogma of various health lobby groups. Given these measures originated in Brussels, the Government should commit to review each and every one of them following Brexit.”

The changes that come into full force on the 20th May 2017 stem from the European Commission’s Tobacco Products Directive and include: banning packs of tobacco of fewer than 20 cigarettes or 30g of hand rolling banning of branded packaging (so called standardised or plain packaging) and flavoured tobacco products; a suite of restrictions on e-cigarettes and a minimum excise tax. The changes have been phased in over the last 12 months starting in May 2016. The TMA has produced a briefing on these changes and what effects they are likely to have and can be found by clicking here.

The TMA has called the measures excessive whilst highlighting the absence of evidence to suggest that they will achieve their stated intentions and called for the Government to review each measure once the UK has left the European Union. The TMA has also highlighted that since plain packaging was introduced in France on 1st January this year, tobacco sales actually increased according to official figures.

Notes to Editors

  1. Three waves of the polling of 1,000 smokers were conducted between December 2016 and May 2017 to coincide with the phasing in of the restrictions and tested the likely behaviour of smokers to them.
  2. Changes to the UK tobacco market are being enacted under the EU Tobacco Products Directive that was incorporated into UK legislation in 2016. Further details can be found here http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-1762_en.htm
  • On the ban on small packs introduced by TPD, Martin Dockerell, Head of Tobacco Control at PHE said when Head of Policy at lobby group Action on Smoking in 2008 that: “People buy smaller pack sizes such as 10s when they are attempting to reduce their tobacco consumption and quit. If you wanted people to lose weight you wouldn’t take away fun-sized chocolate bars and only sell jumbos. I’m with the retailers on this one.”

https://www.conveniencestore.co.uk/news/tobacco-legislation-doubts/191730.article

Whilst the Head of Policy at CRUK Alison Cox when interviewed by ITV on 20th May 2016 on the small pack ban admitted that the move could actually lead to people smoking more:

Chris Choi: “Even if you can’t stop your habit it is set to change. New rules from today include a ban on the production of packets of ten cigarettes. It is strongly supported by health campaigners.”

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK: “Certainly, if we are thinking about children or people on a lower income, they are really going to think twice about buying a packet of 20 rather than a packet of ten.

Chris Choi: “Surely if people have to buy a bigger packet, they will end up smoking more cigarettes.”

Alison Cox: “Well, that may be the case…”

  1. On plain packaging (that TPD allowed member states to introduce), a Cochrane review of 51 studies on plain packaging published on 27th April 2017: “didn’t find any studies on whether changing tobacco packaging affects the number of young people starting to smoke.” Preventing youth access to tobacco take up was the chief reason cited by the Government and health campaigners why plain packaging was introduced in the UK. http://www.cochrane.org/news/new-evidence-finds-standardized-cigarette-packaging-may-reduce-number-people-who-smoke
  2. Kaul, 2014, The (Possible) Effect of Plain Packaging on the Smoking Prevalence of Minors in Australia: A Trend Analysis found that “analyses fail to find any evidence for an actual plain packaging effect on Australians aged 14 to 17 years.”
  3. Cigarette sales in France are increasing compared to same period last year {first 3 months): +1.4 % for cigarettes and +3.6% for hand rolling tobacco according to French Customs Office, L’administration des Douanes.
  • A one year ‘sell through’ period started in May 2016 – 20th May 2017 therefore marks the final date for the market to be compliant with the Tobacco Products Directive.
  • In 2016 Oxford Economics conducted an assessment of the impact of banning minimum pack sizes finding that it would reduce incidental spend of £1.5bn and cost 11,190 jobs in the retail sector whilst costing HMT £2.1bn in lost tax revenue in the first year. http://the-tma.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Final-draft-of-the-incidental-spend-report.pdf
  1. The same Oxford Economics report noted that smaller packs that will be banned from 20th May were bought by 24% of hand rolling tobacco consumers and 71% of cigarette consumers in the UK.
  2. The TMA considers illicit sources of tobacco to include locations where tobacco is typically sold in the UK without paying UK tax. This includes: markets and car boot sales, vans, someone selling in the workplace, pub or in the street, private houses, from friends and family and online (e.g. from social media or cheap websites).
  3. For further information please contact Giles Roca on 07747486479 or 0207 5440110
  4. A TMA briefing on 20th May changes is available to download. http://the-tma.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/TMA-Changes-in-Tobacco-Market.pdf
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