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“Cigarette plain packaging fear campaign unfounded,” reports The Guardian.

After Australia introduced plain packaging laws in 2012, opponents of the legislation argued it would lead to a number of unintended consequences, including:

  • the market would become flooded by cheap Asian brands
  • smokers would be more likely to buy illegal unbranded tobacco (including raw unbranded loose tobacco known locally in Australia as “chop-chop”)
  • smokers would be less likely to buy their cigarettes from smaller mixed businesses such as convenience stores and petrol stations, meaning that small businesses would suffer
  • But a new study conducted in Victoria, Australia, suggests these fears are unfounded.


Researchers compared the responses smokers gave in a telephone survey one year before the introduction of standardised packaging, with responses given one year after its introduction.

The study found no evidence the introduction of standardised packaging had changed the proportion of people purchasing from small mixed-business retailers, purchasing cheap brands imported from Asia, or using illicit tobacco.

But this study did not investigate whether there had been an increase in the use of counterfeit branded tobacco products. The researchers noted that smokers may be unaware they are smoking counterfeit products.

In conclusion, the study suggests there is no evidence for many of the “fears” proposed by opponents of standardised packaging.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer in Melbourne, Australia.

It was supported by Quit Victoria, with funding from VicHealth and the Department of Health for the Victorian Smoking and Health annual survey.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ Open, which is open access, so the study can be read online or downloaded for free.

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