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Tobacco deal is business as usual, say Bradford campaigners
A EU deal reached this week will mean ‘business as usual’ for two tobacco packaging producers.
But industry campaigners will again focus on fighting off the prospect of plain cigarette packets being enforced in the UK, which they claim would threaten jobs.
Agreement has been reached on the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive between the EU Commission, European Council and European Parliament. While plain packaging is not a requirement, individual states will be able to introduce them.
The directive requires health warnings on tobacco packaging to cover 65 per cent of the surface area, including pictures, bans menthol cigarettes from 2020, require cigarettes to be sold in packs of at least 20 and loose rolling tobacco in packs of at least 30 grams.
Packaging industry campaign spokesman Mike Ridgway, a former executive of Weidenhammer and Chesapeake in Bradford, said the revised EU rules would allow them to continue making cans and printed folding cartons but with some restrictions on their size, shape and specification.
He welcomed the conclusion of the tobacco directive negotiations which will allow the Bradford manufacturers to stay in business. But Mr Ridgway said the industry would not turn its attention for a second time to fighting off the threat of plain packs in the UK.
He said: “These changes do not directly influence the separate debate regarding the introduction of plain packaging which the UK Government is putting out for a further review under Sir Cyril Chantler, who will report back by March, 2014. All efforts now move to Westminster and Edinburgh regarding the possible introduction of plain packaging into the England and Scotland which, if implemented, will see major changes in the market.”
Mr Ridgway said that in Australia, the first country to adopt plain packs, trade in counterfeit products had risen and He said: “We should not allow this fuelling of the illicit trade to take place in the UK. It would be far more effective to follow a policy of education and enlightenment about the perils of smoking to young people rather than the introduction of excessive regulation upon which there is no evidence that it works.”
The new rules have been criticised by Japan Tobacco International, a major customer of the Weidenhammer Bradford plant at Buttershaw. Ben Townsend, head of EU affairs, said: “The Tobacco Packaging Directive has been negotiated hastily, pushed by political agendas, with little consideration given to the effectiveness of the numerous measures and the cost entailed for EU member states and businesses.”
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