Plain Packaging of Cigarettes Will Not Reach Goals

Cigarette branding may be coming to an end in Scotland and the UK, as government officials seek to enact plain packaging regulations. Right now Australia is set to become the first country to introduce plain packages in 2012 and the European Union is considering a ban. These drastic measures are taking place due to the fact that they believe it will help decrease cigarette usage in their countries, as well as the go-to feel good fallacy that “it’s for the children.”

As we have mentioned before this attacks intellectual property rights to the core. Last week, the Property Rights Alliance submitted comments to the European Commission regarding the possible revision of the Tobacco Products Directive. Click, HERE if you wish to read the full letter. Essentially, enacting plain packaging rules halts tobacco companies from exercising their intellectual property rights. If the EU directive is enacted it will forbid companies from displaying their trademarks and thereby not allowing them to differentiate their products on the basis of their trademark. This strikes at the core principals of corporate identity and consumer information that European businesses are based upon.
Here is a list of the effects of the possible revision from PRA’s comments:
  1. No reduction in smoking rates: There is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that the implementation of plain packaging will lead to any decrease in the total quantity of alcohol products sold. Brand substitution is the only effect.
  2. Cheaper cigarette prices: Since companies will not have the ability to compete on the basis of logo/trademark differentiation, consumers will only have the ability differentiate products based on pricing.
  3. Increased counterfeiting: By preventing the brands to display their trademarks on their tobacco products it allows a greater threat for their products to be faked and therefore could have detrimental effects to consumers.
  4. Threaten jobs: At a time of economic downturn this could cost jobs to many hard working families such as, graphic designers and paper producers.
Additionally, plain packaging rules will breach the EU’s legal obligations in relation to international trade and European law. The possible revision would fail to do what it is put in place to do and at the same time violate intellectual property rights granted to all. This is counterproductive and should not reach fruition.