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A recent study by Stirling University has indicated that the price of top-selling cigarettes increased by almost 5%, or an extra 38p on a pack of 20 in the 18 months after the plain packaging legislation was introduced. Similarly, the price of hand-rolling tobacco has also rose by about 8%, or 91p on a 30g pack.

The research team obtained this data by analyzing sales figures from 500 small retailers in Scotland, England and Wales, over the 12-month transition period when plain packaging was introduced, and then for another six months after the legislation became mandatory.

Unfounded claims

The researchers pointed out that their findings go against claims made by “Big Tobacco” when the plain packaging legislation was first introduced. “Tobacco companies were strongly opposed to plain packaging. They appeared adamant that, if the policy was implemented, brands would only be able to compete on price, which would result in lower prices, greater affordability and, consequently, increased consumption,” said Dr Nathan Critchlow, of Stirling’s institute for social marketing.

“…This suggests that tobacco companies instigated the price rises – and that their predictions of falling prices and rising affordability were intended to deter the government from implementing the policy.”Dr. Nathan Critchlow, Stirling University

The tobacco companies complaints about decreasing prices were nothing but an attempt to deter the authorities from implementing the policy, added Critchlow. “Our study, however, provides early evidence that these concerns of lower prices appear to be unfounded. We found that, as well as the sale prices, recommended retail prices also increased. This suggests that tobacco companies instigated the price rises – and that their predictions of falling prices and rising affordability were intended to deter the government from implementing the policy.”

Another attempt by ‘Big Tobacco’ to kill an effective regulation

Kruti Shrotri, a spokesperson for Cancer Research UK said that these findings are a clear indication that tobacco companies will do just about anything to kill stop-smoking efforts. “Plain packaging for cigarettes is an effective public health measure to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco to young people. The tobacco industry were clearly saying anything they could to try and undermine this health measure and protect their profits,” said Shrotri.

Read Further: The Guardian

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