CanvasU, commissioned by JTI (Japan Tobacco International), recently conducted a poll to understand Australians’ views on the policy five years after its implementation. The research found that:
- Almost two-thirds (59%) of Australians believe that plain packaging has been ineffective.
- The majority of Australians (80%) believe the government wouldn’t change or would be reluctant to change a preferred policy if the evidence was weighted against it.
Even the Australian government’s own data justifies public scepticism; the most recent figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that“… while smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend, for the first time in over two decades, the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent 3 year period (2013 to 2016)”:
“Unsurprisingly, early data from France and the United Kingdom is pointing in the same direction”, states Iva Khasia, Regulatory Affairs Manager at JTI Caucasus. According to a new report published by Europe Economics, since the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) and plain packaging requirements were implemented in both the UK and France, the combined policies haven’t had any impact on smoking rates or tobacco sales. Recent data published by the French
public authorities confirms that after nine-months, the amount of tobacco products distributed to retailers remains stable.
Around the world, anti-tobacco activists and some health authorities are calling for similar experimental policies to be rolled-out on other product categories such as alcohol, sugary drinks and fast food. In December 2016, Public Health England published a report calling for plain packaging on alcohol, a topic which has been raised again this month by medical journal The Lancet. In Canada, the Ontario Medical Association has mocked up images of plain packaging on food and drink products.
It is therefore no surprise that CanvasU’s research found that:
At least half of Australians think it is likely plain packaging will be introduced on alcohol and food & drink with a high sugar content in the future (or that it is already in place).
In fact, a majority of Australians expect this policy to be just the start of an escalation in regulation against lifestyle in the future.
“An increasing number of regulators are looking at extreme tobacco-style regulations on other product categories without considering proper evidence or research into the consequences. Brand owners should be worried about this domino-effect as policy-makers won’t stop with tobacco”, concludes Iva Khasia.