U.K. smokers' lobby Forest criticizes Heart Foundation's call for plain packaging for cigarettes as government moves toward public consultation on branding

LOS ANGELES , January 3, 2012 () –
The U.K. Group, Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), said the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) call for plain packaging for cigarettes would have little effect on the numbers of young people who begin smoking, Packaging News reported Jan. 3.

The London-based BHF on Dec. 29 said the government should follow in the footsteps of Australia. To deter new smokers, Australia is preparing to introduce plain packaging on tobacco products by the end of 2012, banishing attracting colors and branding.

The. U.K. plans to begin public consultations early in 2012 on whether to switch to plain packs for cigarettes, Packaging News reported.

There is no evidence the proposed plain cigarette-packs would affect sales, said Forest director Simon Clark, adding that the plan would lead to an eventual ban on “a legal consumer product.”

Most young people take up smoking because of peer pressure or familiarity with smoking in the family, not because of packaging, said Clark, reported Packaging News.

Cambridge-based lobbying group Forest opposes smoking bans and discrimination against smokers.

Young people are not necessarily aware of the risks associated with smoking, and “glitzy packaging” lures young smokers, said BHF policy director Betty McBride, Packaging News reported.

In a BHF survey released last Thursday of young people aged 16 to 25, three-quarters of respondents said packs with no colorful brands and with larger health warnings would help them reduce or quit smoking, according to a Reuters report Dec. 29.

The primary source of this article is Packaging News, Croydon, England, Jan. 3, 2012.

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