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Statistics ‘do not bear out claims’ of major tobacco firms

‘BIZARRE’ claims that tougher tobacco laws will boost crime must be ignored to protect public health, an anti-smoking charity said yesterday.

ASH Scotland’s ‘Dodgy Cigs’ report shows the UK trade in black market cigarettes and tobacco has declined every year since 2000, despite the introduction of stronger regulations and the increasing price of over-the-counter packs.

The report is released as new standardised plain packaging and other tobacco regulations come into force.

Major tobacco firms have claimed such moves would boost the trade in smuggled and counterfeit goods.

However, ASH Scotland head Sheila Duffy called this claim bizarre, in light of current trends.

Considering the impact on the Scottish government’s 2034 smoke-free target, she said: “The tobacco industry has often predicted that public health measures will cause rises in illicit tobacco. But this stance looks increasingly bizarre as illicit tobacco continues to reduce while regulation and price increase.

“We need to be wise to these tactics, and support proven public health measures. Standardised packaging will help put tobacco out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion for the next generation, making smoking less attractive for our children. Although it will take many years to see the full effects of this policy, the evidence from Australia, where plain packs have been used since 2012, shows that they can help to protect children from starting smoking and could help adults to quit.

“These new laws won’t single-handedly solve the problem of tobacco addiction. But they are another step on the journey to a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034.”

Updated packaging rules come into force on May 20, requiring new cartons to feature drab colours and graphic health warnings.

By May 2017, all packs sold in the UK will be required to adhere to the regulations.

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