A consultation on the Department of Health’s plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco will close today.
The review was extended by a month to allow more people to respond after strong interest in the issue.
Tobacco retailers have expressed concerns about the impact of service times and profitability, as well as fears that the introduction of plain packs will fuel the illegal trade of tobacco.
Tobacco manufacturers have also said that the introduction of legislation that prevents the owner of a lawful product from differentiating their product from those of their competitors, depriving them of the ability to exploit their intellectual property, would be unprecedented in the UK and would require the clearest and most cogent justification.
The risk that stripping cigarette packets of their distinctive branding and logos will fuel a surge in tobacco smuggling and other forms of crime has also been highlighted.
In June, a report called ‘Plain packaging and the illicit trade in the UK’ – produced by Transcrime, the Joint Research Centre on Transnational Crime based in Milan – found that plain packaging measures would increase risk of counterfeit cigarettes flooding the UK market; increase risk that consumers will no longer care whether they are smoking legal or illegal tobacco; and lead to higher levels of smuggling as it becomes even more profitable.
Plain packaging is seen by campaigners as the next step in discouraging young people from taking up smoking.