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Government advisers concerned over plain packaging

30 July, 2014

Concerns about proposals for plain packaging for tobacco have been raised by a body which advises government on new regulations.

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), which provides the government with external, independent scrutiny of new regulatory and deregulatory proposals, has published its Opinion on the Impact Assessment for the introduction of plain packaging in the UK, raising a number of concerns about the Department of Health’s analysis of the impact on businesses.

In the document, the RPC has called on the Department of Health to look at the following areas with regard to impact on businesses:

• provide more detail on the costs to business of transitioning to standardised tobacco products;

• carry out further testing of the claimed decrease in transaction times of selecting and serving a standardised tobacco product;

• provide information on the costs associated with the disposal of duty paid and currently branded packs;

• include additional analysis of the impact on small and micro businesses in all potential sectors affected.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the concerns raised by the Regulatory Policy Committee in their opinion, and have shared many of the same concerns in our submissions to Government on this issue.

“We do not believe that there is robust evidence to suggest that transaction times will decrease under standardised packaging – in fact we believe it will take longer to serve customers when all packs look essentially the same. The full impact of plain packaging on retailers must be taken into account.”

ACS will be submitting its formal response to the consultation on plain packaging, including comments on the impact assessment in early August.