Høringssvar fra Unión de Asociaciones de Estanqueros de España
Four reasons why standardised packaging of tobacco products has no sense at all
The Spanish Association of Tobacconists (Unión de Asociaciones de Estanqueros) is a non-profit organization, structured as a federative professional association aimed at defending the interests of over 13,500 tobacconists throughout Spain, integrated by means of their provincial associations.
The Association of Tobacconists appreciates the opening of this consultation process and, within this context, wishes to be involved to submit the following considerations, detailed in the present document.
The Spanish Association of Tobacconists shows its opposition to plain packaging for the following reasons:
- There is no scientific evidence supporting its efficiency in relation to the public health protection. Independent studies on the efficiency of plain packaging indicate that there are no evidences that this measure will reduce the use of tobacco. These same studies point out that elements that prompt smoking are peer pressure, influence from parents or social environment, culture, access to tobacco, but never the packaging or product’s design. However, apart from these studies, we have the Australian example, where plain packaging is already established. In this country, this measure has not been able to reduce the number of smokers and has not affected figures related to the youngest smokers. Studies published to date argue that the number of smokers has not decreased, but they have changed to a cheaper modality, such as RYO or smuggled tobacco.
- Consequences for users would be very negative, since it would increase illicit trade. According to a study performed by KPMG, illegal use of tobacco in this country has increased from 11.8% to 13.9%, reaching historic records. This same study reveals that the black market has grown by 154% in sales of products with registered trademark, whereas illegal sales of brand-less tobacco have decreased by 40%. Had these sales been performed in the legal market, they would have implied a tax collection of 1,000 million Australian Dollars. In this sense, and for the purpose of eradicating illicit trade, the Association of Tobacconists firmly believes that the fight against smuggling is the duty of all parties, and that the collaboration between the tobacco sector and institutions is critical. Thus, we understand that the protection of the legislation against tobacco companies’ commercial interests, put forward in article 5.3 of the FCTC, does not mean that they must be excluded as valid interlocutors, able to contribute with value when building legislations which affect them.
- Changing all packets into a practically identical look would immensely complicate the seller’s task to distinguish ones from the others under the users’ demand. The Australian experience has evidenced problems in tobacco retail establishments, lengthening the customer-service time required and causing errors when dispatching goods, which cannot be returned once the user has handled them without noticing that they do not correspond to what they have asked for.
- It implies the downgrading of the tobacconist, who will dispense a product which has undergone the expropriation of its brand, its colours, its distinguishing elements… There are no salesmen in the market who are subject to such a situation, which severely punishes the product being sold which, at the same, is subject to the strictest legal, quality and consumption controls, and incorporates all kind of warnings on its risks, the packaging itself and external elements.