Cigarette Packaging In The UK Could Drastically Change In A No Deal Brexit | Valdamark Bulk Packaging

Tobacco Manufactures could face disruption with the loss of the stock EU photo bank for use of plain cigarette packaging in the event of a no deal Brexit.

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The Tobacco lobby has been making it voice heard when it comes to the implications of a no deal Brexit.

Some of the big multinationals have commented that they see a no deal Brexit opening up an entirely new black market for tobacco products.

At present it is EU laws that control the vast majority of regulation surrounding tobacco products in the UK. The most notable of which is the Tobacco Products Directive of 2014 which applies to both the regular hinge style cigarettes packets and the loose foil pouch packaging for loose tobacco.

There is some UK regulation in place which this directive works alongside however there was a UK government initiative in 2015 to both reduce sales and smoking rates.

The UK may use Australia’s anti-smoking imagery in the event of a no deal Brexit!

Interestingly the UK currently uses the EU photo bank for it’s ‘shock factor’ warning images on cigarette packaging.

In the event the UK leaves with no deal it will no longer have access to the EU sources and the regulations themselves.

The government has confirmed that Australia has offered to provide there stock images free of charge instead.

Indeed Australia is at the forefront of global tobacco regulation and has led the way in the use of graphic and effective imagery.

The goal is to ensure that cigarette packaging and that of tobacco products remain properly regulated once the UK departs the EU.

It will be the responsibility of the tobacco manufacturers to ensure that after the March 29th deadline products utilise the new Australian pictures.

Despite the short amount of time to implement the changes tobacco manufacturers have been reassured that products can still be sold featuring the old imagery 12 months for the UK’s official exit day.

The Tobacco giants have commented that these changes are extremely inconvenient and will inevitable lead to wasted stock that will cost the industry millions.

Could the cigarette packaging changes lead to a black market?

At Japan Tobacco International (JTI), a leading tobacco manufacturer, a spokesperson has commented that these changes could disrupt the legal tobacco supply chain.

In order to avoid this it is though the UK government must make a copyright agreement with the EU that allows the UK to carry on using it’s imagery.

In fact the EU commission has issued similar licenses like this in the past and one here to UK would be essential in preventing an emerging black market.

The problem is that with the introduction of plain bulk packaging the complexity of replicating the authentic packaging has been removed. These deigns are now simple and relatively easy to copy.

Standardised Packaging for Cigarettes

In 2012, Australia became the first country to implement plain and standardised packaging for cigarettes in an effort to reduce tobacco use.

The new laws prohibit all design features on packs other than brand and variant names written in plain font, while drab green/brown colour schemes are required as the main background colour of cigarette packs.

In addition to having unappealing appearances, packs must carry health warning labels plus other required information that discourage people from taking up smoking.

Although opposition to such laws exists, Australia's initial success proves that bold interventions can have big impacts on global health behaviour changes.

Australia Got the Legal Victory

The World Trade Organisation's (WTO's) Appellate Body ruled in favour of Australia in a major legal victory for 2020.

This ruling was significant not only because it was the final legal challenge to

Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws, but because it also confirmed that these laws were beneficial, and necessary and did not breach any intellectual property laws at an international level.

These laws sought to reduce tobacco use and exposure to better protect the public health of Australia's citizens, and the WTO’s decision has evidently given the green light for other countries to introduce similar policies with regard to tobacco packaging.

As stated by public health experts following the decision, this could positively influence many governments around the world when it comes to introducing their own policies surrounding dangerous goods such as cigarettes and alcohol.

A Decade of Legal Battle. After a decade of legal battles in courts around the world, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organisation recently confirmed that Australia's plain packaging laws on tobacco do not violate any international trade agreements.

The legal challenges first began with a challenge by tobacco companies in Australia's High Court in 2012, which concluded in favour of the Australian government. After that, Philip Morris Asia filed an investor-state dispute pursuant to a bilateral investment treaty with Hong Kong, but it was ultimately dismissed due to rights abuse. Legal challenges to the plain packaging laws in nations like France and Ireland were also made, but they also failed.

In addition to these court cases, however, the tobacco industry mounted a broader campaign of opposition to plain packaging laws through lobbying and advertising. Even with this June's appellate decision, there will likely continue to be resistance from some corners of the industry for some time yet. Nevertheless, this decision further clarifies that such plain packaging initiatives are indeed legal and should not be deterred from implementation by corporations seeking to protect their interests in selling cigarettes

The Decision. The Appellate Body's decision ends years of legal battles over Australia's tobacco plain packaging laws, sending an important signal that governments can pass public health regulations without repercussions from multinational organisations.

The decision serves as a reminder that the public good must be respected over financial gain when making decisions related to policymaking.
Through this decision and others like it, we can hope to continue building regulations that will protect disenfranchised populations while respecting international law.

Advocacy in the Tobacco Industry

Despite strong advocacy from the tobacco industry, governments around the world have passed plain packaging laws in an effort to reduce smoking rates.
The tobacco industry has put up a considerable fight against the legislation by mounting legal challenges in the WTO systems and domestically, recently ended by WTO Appellate Body.

In addition to litigation, lobbying, and PR/media campaigns opposing plain packaging laws with arguments such as "nanny state" thinking, when they cannot stop implementation of legislation outright they often resort to economic tactics such as threatening plant closures or increased theft from retailers; all these attempts ultimately hope to prevent governments from enacting legislation that erodes their profits and endangers public health through increased availability of cigarettes.


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