The Cigarette Manufacturers of Belgium and Luxembourg (CIMABEL) falsely claim that there is no scientific study that proves neutral packaging of cigarettes makes people smoke less.
As of January 1st 2020 the packaging of cigarettes will be neutral in Belgium. The country will be the fifth in Europe that follows the trend of making its tobacco packaging neutral after France, Norway, UK and Ireland. It hereby follows the guidelines created for trying to make Europe a smoke free continent in order to keep their citizens healthy.
In september CIMABEL claimed that there is no scientific study that investigates if people will smoke less due to neutral packaging. However, the University of Antwerp already studied the question in 2012 and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016.
The results of the study were that plain packages are perceived as cheap, unreliable and less attractive for young people. Because of the unattractiveness of the plain packaging, the health warnings catch the eye much more strongly. The study, the first in Flanders on this topic, concludes that plain packaging could be a strong policy tool to reduce the number of adolescents that start smoking.
The reason the plain packaging is mostly focused on changing the behaviour of the youth is the same reason that cigarette manufacturers target this group with their advertising. The brains of young people are more susceptible to nicotine in tobacco, which makes them more likely to get addicted. They also are more likely to be influenced by logos and colours on the packaging.
Pubs shutting down
CIMABEL wants to hold back measures against tobacco products by posting these claims on their website and social media. It is no coincidence that the cigarette manufacturers make this claim at this time, as the arrival of the neutral packaging is coming closer and will inevitably hurt their revenue.
Tobacco lobbyists are known for making false claims about the effect of measures against tobacco products. When European countries prohibited smoking in pubs around 2010 the lobby claimed that a lot of pubs would go out of business. However, after the measure was implemented there was no increase in pubs shutting down.
In short, the claim from CIMABEL about the non-existence of a study about plain packaging is false, as the University of Antwerp and the World Health Organisation already intensively studied the case.
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RESEARCH | ARTICLE © AP University College Antwerp, Belgium