Is plain packaging for cigarettes really influencing smokers or just breaching intellectual property rights?
As you may remember, we have discussed this topic a while back, and now we are following the story through with new information. Cancer Council Victoria has presented new findings of a research at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi on Thursday that show that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes in Australia has reduced the appeal of smoking among adolescents and prompted smokers to think about dropping the habbit.
The research found that a year after being introduced, standardised packaging was associated with an increase in the number of people thinking about quitting and trying to quit, and that children aged between 12 and 17 found standardised packaging less appealing. But, one must find oneself wondering: is there a way to produce this kind of results without breaching on the intellectual property rights of tobacco companies?
We could argue that teaching teenagers at school more about the effects of smoking could produce the same results. Also, plain packaging is just one part of Australia’s comprehensive tobacco control program, which also includes tobacco tax increases, mass media education campaigns, smoke-free laws and smoking cessation support. Which brings us to the next question: is it really about the plain packaging or is it a combination of other programs that is influencing the public?
The world’s most famous and most influential tobbaco companies vow legal battle against this law in Europe (specifically UK, where the law on plain packaging has been passed), on the grounds of the law violating UK, EU and international laws and World Trade Organisation rules on international trade.
“Today’s decision by the UK Government to arbitrarily ban the use of tobacco-related trademarks is an irrational and unnecessary attack on private property that vilifies products that well informed adults choose to buy,” said Philip Morris corporate affairs director James Barge.
“While we respect a government’s authority to regulate in the public interest, we and the public expect them to do so based on evidence, taking account of fundamental values such as private property, equal treatment and consumer choice. Following this decision, we are prepared to protect our rights and to seek fair compensation for the value of our property,” said Barge.
One thing is certain, the passing of this law caused much stir so far, and it will not blow over any time soon, and we will surely hear more sides to these stories, from different sources and continents.