Cigarette prices were actually higher one year after the standardized packaging legislation was introduced, not lower.
In November 2017, the UK court of appeals had rejected a plea by British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International (PMI), to stop the plain packaging law which according to them would have infringed their human and intellectual property rights.
The tobacco companies had even claimed that that the measure would lead to discounted pricing, which would in turn lead to increased smoking rates. However, a study from the University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG), has indicated the opposite and the researchers believe that these findings provide important evidence with regards to the effectivity of plain packaging.
Plain packaging has led to increased cigarette pricing
Published in the journal PLOS One, the study analysed cigarette sales data pre- and post-implementation from 2015-18. The compiled data indicated that contrary to the claims by tobacco companies, prices were actually higher one year after the standardized packaging legislation was introduced, not lower.
“Like many tobacco industry predictions, their claims did not withstand scrutiny. In fact, we found that prices in most market segments rose faster after the policy than before,” said main study author and Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group, Professor Anna Gilmore.
“Like many tobacco industry predictions, their claims did not withstand scrutiny. In fact, we found that prices in most market segments rose faster after the policy than before.”Professor Anna Gilmore, Director, TCRG
The researchers added that this price increase likely resulted from the introduction of new requirements under a minimum excise tax (MET). The MET was Introduced to coincide with the introduction of plain packing and its aim was making it harder for the tobacco industry to sell cheap cigarettes, which make it easier for young people to start smoking and harder for smokers to stop.
An earlier study had already indicated similar findings. Conducted by Stirling University, a 2018 study had found that the price of top-selling cigarettes had 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 increased by about 8%, or 91p on a 30g pack.
The research team had 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.
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