MPs say plain cigarette packs will not lead to illegal trading

A GROUP of MPs has dealt a blow to the tobacco industry by claiming that introducing plain cigarette packaging would not flood the UK with illicit cigarettes, one of the industry’s major arguments against the policy.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, an anti-smoking selection of MPs, will today release a report claiming that the trade in illegally imported cigarettes has fallen in recent years, despite sharp rises in tobacco prices, and that introducing plain packaging would not reverse this trend.

The report claims that the proportion of illegal cigarettes sold in the UK has fallen from one in five in 2000 to less than one in 10 during 2010-11.

The government has recently closed a consultation on plain packaging, which would see logos and colours stripped from cigarette cartons. The policy has been introduced in Australia.

“Contrary to tobacco industry propaganda there is no good reason to think that standardised packs will increase illicit trade,” Labour MP Stephen Williams, the head of the group, said.