Manufacturers join forces to lobby plain packaging proposal

By Pamela Mardle, Wednesday 20 June 2012

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API Group, Chesapeake, Parkside Flexibles, Weidenhammer Packaging Group and Payne have collaborated to lobby against standardised packaging on tobacco products.

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The Department of Health has put forward the proposal to curb the uptake of smoking amongst the public, stating that the removal of branding would reduce appeal of tobacco products and enhance the visibility of health warnings.

The group has called a meeting with business minister Mark Prisk to be held after the consultation period has ended on July 10.

Former Weidenhammer managing director Mike Ridgway, who is fronting the group, said: "Plain packaging will open up opportunities for counterfeiting, which will cause a massive loss to revenue in the UK as the government takes £14bn tax from the tobacco market every year."

Chesapeake marketing manager Bob Houghton added: "Standardising packaging will make it easier for counterfeiters to replicate packaging, which could mean that poor stock would enter the tobacco supply chain and pose a further threat to health."

He said the company’s investment in gravure technology and over 200 skilled staff at its Bradford and Portsmouth tobacco packaging factories could be "redundant" if sophisticated finishing and colour variety were to be restricted.

Parkside Flexibles CEO Lawrence Dall said: "In this difficult economy, I thought government policy was there to help SMEs, especially those involved in the manufacturing sector, and reduce red tape.

"Instead, a new tide of regulation directly threatens our business and many like us. It’s not just the printers that will be hit but also suppliers such as ink manufacturers, design agencies, the advertising and promotion sector and brand owners themselves."

Ridgway is encouraging other businesses to speak out against the proposal.

He said: "Whilst standardised packaging is of immediate concern to the many SMEs involved in the tobacco supply chain, it is the precedent it would set for other sectors that we see as extremely dangerous in the longer term.

"With legislation around minimum alcohol pricing in the pipeline, and calls for cigarette-style health warnings on junk food, brand owners and manufacturers have to open their eyes to the very realistic threat of ‘plain’ packaging being introduced on a wide range of consumer products.

"This proposal has a fundamental impact on business and print is the number one target."


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