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The Government may have concluded its ‘consultation’ on plain cigarette packaging in the UK, but with pressure from both national and international Tobacco magnates, and threats of billion pound lawsuits, it looks like the Health Secretary has much to consider.

One only has to look at the supermarket shelves to see the importance of great packaging, and we can be in no doubt that bold colour, attractive designs, and catchy phrases draw us to certain products, but will plain packaging really help the NHS by reducing the amount of smokers?

Australia is to become the first country in the world to enforce plain cigarette packaging, and from 1st December 2012, all cigarettes sold will be in olive green packs, a colour said to be the least appealing to smokers.  In addition to the ‘unattractive colour’, the boxes will carry stark health warnings and images, covering 90% of the back and 75% of the front.

Anti-smoking campaigners welcome the move and believe that plain packaging will encourage smokers to quit and stop youngsters taking up smoking in the first place, but a spokesperson for tobacco giant Philip Morris said that plain packaging will not achieve these aims and that, “It will mean an increase in counterfeiting and smuggling and the crime levels, often linked to terrorism, which go with those.  It is also an attack on trademarks, which violates national and international law.”

Tobacco companies have been using packaging as a very effective form of advertising for many years, so it is no surprise that they are so upset by the governments latest plans, but with millions of pounds at their disposal for a law suit, can the Department of Health really afford to take them on in court?

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said, “We have not yet analysed all the responses but have already received a substantial number”, and went on to say, “We have an open mind on this issue and will make a decision on any further action after we have considered the responses, evidence and other relevant information.”

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