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Tobacco firms accused of subverting plain packaging laws

22 Oct 2019. Tobacco firms have been accused of using loopholes to circumvent plain packaging laws, The Guardian reported.

The article quoted a recent report from the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Open publication, which stated that tobacco companies have found loopholes in the UK’s plain packaging laws, in order to make their brands more recognisable. After the new laws were implemented in May 2017, companies such as Philip Morris International redesigned their packaging to add bevelled edges and a ‘pro-seal’ mechanism. According to the article, researchers for the report claimed this made packs “appear more premium and recognisable compared to other brands.”

The article also stated that in response to a ban on taste descriptions, such as ‘menthol’ or ‘smooth’, tobacco companies had replaced these names with colours instead. According to researchers, by introducing a colour coded naming system linked to the older names, “misperceptions are likely to endure.”

The lead author of the report, Dr Karen Evans-Reeves from the University of Bath, was quoted as saying, “Based on the number of innovations we found in this study, we would encourage all governments considering implementing plain packaging legislation to consider how tobacco companies have adapted to the legislation in other countries and where possible, close any remaining loopholes.”