‘Plain tobacco packaging to destroy legal Indian industry’
Adoption of WHO-propagated plain packaging for tobacco products in India will not help reduce tobacco consumption but only boost illegal trade while destroying legal domestic industry, according to Tobacco Institute of India (TII).
TII, which has members like ITC, Godfrey Philips and VST that account for 98 per cent of the country’s domestic sales of duty paid cigarettes, asked the government to desist from moving further towards plain packaging. The adoption of even more “extreme regulation such as Plain Packaging propagated by WHO and anti-tobacco activists” will have adverse consequences and there is no compelling evidence to prove its effectiveness, it said. “The plain packaging proposal orchestrated by foreign anti-tobacco organisations, if adopted in India, will not help reduce tobacco consumption, but will only destroy the legal industry and Indian tobacco farmers by providing a further boost to illegal trade,” TII said in a statement.
It further said that the main thrust of plain packaging will only be on the domestic legal cigarettes, which account for no more than 11 per cent of the total tobacco consumed in India. “Any proposal to implement plain packaging in India on the back of the extreme 85 per cent pictorial warnings will be a further assault on the Intellectual Property Rights of legal manufacturers and promote the cause of smuggled foreign brands,” TII said. Under plain tobacco packaging currently followed only in Australia, logos, colours, imagery and promotional information are not allowed on packets but only brand names and product names are allowed in standard colour and font style.
“Various surveys in Australia show no decrease in smoking prevalence after the introduction of plain packaging in the country. In fact, studies conducted post introduction of Plain Packaging in Australia have found an increase in the country’s illegal trade,” said TII.