East Lancashire MP in plain cigarette packaging counterfeiting fear

26 Jun 2012

Plain cigarette packaging to deter youngsters from smoking “is not the way forward”, according to an East Lancashire MP and a leading retail spokesman.

The Government is consulting until July 10 over proposals to remove all distinguishing designs, fonts, and colouring, from the packets of any tobacco sold in shops.

If approved, packets will all be the same colour, and all the brand names on the packets will be in the same-sized fonts.

Those in favour of the proposal feel that by stripping away brand identity, young people will be discouraged from starting to smoke.

Coun Suleman Khonat, who owns a shop in Blackburn, and is North West spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA), believes the move will lead to more counterfeiting, concerns echoed by Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle.

Mr Birtwistle said: “I don’t think plain packaging will stop any young person from taking up smoking.

“I don’t think they look at the packaging.

“They’re often given a cigarette by someone else, and, 99 times out of 100, the branding is irrelevant.

“I would support anything that deters people from smoking, but this idea is not the way forward.

“I think health education showing the impacts of smoking is far more effective.”

Coun Khonat said: “The problem with plain packaging is that it will make counterfeiting much easier.

“At the moment, the packets are difficult to copy, and inspectors know certain things to look out for.

“If this comes in, then there’s nothing to copy, and the amount of fake cigarettes will go up, and you don’t know what’s in them.

“Colleagues in Ireland, where this has already been brought in, say they’re being approached by illegal gangs, and there’s more people selling fakes at car boot sales and in pubs,” added Coun Khonat.