A number of retailers from Ireland, the UK and France have joined forces to call on the European Commission to stop plans by their respective Member States to adopt plain packaging for cigarettes.
The groups opposing the plain packing introduction include the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) in the UK and Ireland, who are supporting the French Confederation of Tobacconists by attending the retailers’ demonstration in Paris today.
Retailers across Europe have expressed their belief that the new legislation is well-intentioned but misguided policy that poses a considerable threat for jobs, small businesses and the wider economy.
Plain packaging legislation has been adopted in the UK and Ireland and is set to be placed before the French Parliament shortly for debate.
According to the NFRN, since its implementation in Australia, plain packaging has caused the following outcomes: Some 77% of retailers report negative impact on their business, consumption of illegal branded cigarettes is up by 154%, over 1billion AUS$ in tax revenue has been lost to the black market and youth smoking rates have increased from 2.5% to 3.7%.
When the UK and Ireland notified the European Commission of their plans to proceed with plain packaging, an unprecedented 10 EU Member States objected to this policy on the grounds that it goes against internal market rules.
NFRN National President Martyn Brown commented, “Plain packaging gives smugglers and counterfeiters the green light at the expense of public health and legitimate retailers. This policy contravenes the EU’s Internal Market rules and is most likely illegal under international law. We want to European Commission to intervene and stop this madness.”
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