• May 26, 2024

‘Undermining’ Plain Packs

 ‘Undermining’ Plain Packs

Tobacco companies have been undermining U.K. plain packaging laws with subtle marketing techniques, according to a report published in BMJ Open. The techniques ensure cigarettes continue to stand out from rival products without breaching regulations.

Philip Morris International, for example, added beveled edges and a new “pro-seal” closing mechanism to packets of its bestselling Marlboro brand. This made packs “appear more premium and recognizable compared to other brands,” the researchers claimed.

Tobacco companies have also responded to a ban on taste descriptors by replacing them with names based on color. The researchers said that banning terms such as “smooth” and “light” was meant to dispel the myth that certain types of cigarette are less dangerous but that by teaching customers color codes linked to the old descriptions, “misperceptions are likely to endure.”

One of the lawmakers who pioneered the legislation said ministers should consider tightening up the rules to eliminate loopholes detailed in the report.

The U.K. plain packaging law took effect in 2016.