Nov 24, 2010
British American Tobacco (BAT) is ready to take the Government to court over proposals to force companies to sell cigarettes in plain packages.
The world’s second largest tobacco company said the idea, proposed by health secretary Andrew Lansley, would lead to a sharp rise in counterfeit packs being smuggled into the UK.
A spokesman warned the proposals would only tackle the “thin end of the wedge”, questioning whether alcohol, chocolate and crisp packaging could also be targeted.
Mr Lansley said he was considering switching all brand packs to a drab colour in the belief that brightly coloured boxes lured children into smoking. Colourful packaging designs, such as Marlborough’s red top and Lucky Strike’s bullseye, would become a thing of the past under the proposals, aimed at deterring young people from taking up smoking.
But BAT said the proposals would lead to “unintended consequences” such as an increase in counterfeit products being smuggled into the UK, leading to cheap products becoming more accessible for children.
He said: “We are a legal company selling a legal product. We’re going to take whatever action we can to protect our intellectual property. We won’t be ruling out taking things down the legal route if necessary.”
Simon Clark, director of anti-smoking ban group Forest, said: “There is no evidence that plain packaging will have any impact on smoking rates.”