Let’s see what happens in Australia first!
The Australian attempt to make smoking unacceptable by the obligatory introduction of disgusting images on packaging has had its first effect here in Europe. EU commissioner Tonio Borg last week started consultations to change the current directive on tobacco. Nonetheless this has in turn worried those who work in the retail business.
In many parts of the EU, cigarettes make up a large percentage of the sales of small shopkeepers, not to mention the tobacconists who are still in business.
Then there are those who produce tobacco which despite all the health risks, continues to be subsidised by the European Union.
There is another problem which has existed for many years (if not since the birth of tobacco taxation). That is smuggling and copying. In certain countries, notably central Europe, Italy and Greece this is a major problem which could get worse. It may seem that cigarettes sold in a completely different packaging format would be easy to spot for the authorities but the question remains would local law enforcement be willing to do something about it? Currently many major brands are copied, and one may assume that if they had to change their packaging, the current style of packaging would be used by the criminals.
Another difficulty is in smartphone technology which could now give much more information than the package itself shows. Whereas most people, excepting those directly working in the tobacco industry, want to see less smoking, at the same time they do not want to see the tobacco business run by criminals and all the profits going to them. Therefore a wait and see attitude to Australia’s experiment may be the best move.
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