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Anger as tobacco firm contests benefits of plain packaging

Monday, 8 April 2013  at 10:49

The Independent today writes that Japan Tobacco International (JTI) – makers of Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges – will today publicly contest claims that banning branding on packets will lead to a reduction in the number of young people starting smoking.

The company plans to reveal correspondence from the Department of Health, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, which it says calls into question the science behind the ban.
Scotland is set to become the first part of the UK to enforce standardised packaging as part of its efforts to make the country “tobacco free” by 2034 – the equivalent of less than five per cent of the population using cigarettes. 

Smoking rates among lower income communities north of the border remain at 40 per cent. The Scottish government, which led the way in introducing the smoking ban seven years ago, hopes that outlawing branding will make the products less attractive to young people. It is waiting to see the results of a UK-wide consultation before deciding whether to go it alone.

But JTI is publishing Whitehall correspondence from 2011 in which officials state that the new law would have no impact on cutting smoking rates.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of the health charity Ash Scotland, said “Tobacco companies have utter contempt for their consumers and have never intended to make them aware of the harm caused by their products. They have thrown money at misleading people and protecting their investment".

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* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
Supporters Smoke Free South West Ulster Cancer Foundation ash Ash Scotland Ash Wales British Heart Foundation Cancer Research UK Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Cut Films Faculty of Public Health Fresh Smoke Free North East National Heart Forum NCSCT BTS - Stop Smoking Champions The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Royal College of Physicians TCC Tobacco Free Future Trading Standards Partnership South West Smoke Free Lincs - Promoting a tobacco free life