‘Significant’ drop in cigarette sales after introduction of plain packaging

The introduction of plain, standardised packaging has led to a drop in cigarette salesThe introduction of plain, standardised packaging has discouraged the UK public from purchasing cigarettes.

This is according to a new study carried out at the University of Bath.

Researchers found that before the legislation was introduced, cigarette sales were declining by around 12 million a month.

But after the legislation came into force, this drop fell to 20 million a month. The study also suggests a fall in the tobacco industry’s net revenue, from £231 million to £193 million – a 13% drop.

Significant decline

Analysing sales data over a three year period from May 2015 to April 2018, the research team pointed said a fusion of factors contributed to the significant sales fall.

Professor Anna Gilmore is the principal investigator and director of the Tobacco Control Research Group. ‘The combination of tax increases and standardised packaging has led to a significant decline in tobacco sales,’ she said.

‘The underlying rate of decline in tobacco sales almost doubled after these policies were implemented.

‘Governments around the world considering plain packaging can be reassured that this policy works. The real reason the industry opposes this legislation so vehemently is because it threatens its profitability.

‘With coronavirus already posing a threat to tobacco company sales, and plain packaging of tobacco taking off in other jurisdictions, our findings are more bad news for tobacco companies.’

Falling cigarette revenues

The UK was the second country in the world to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes, with Australia being the first. But it was the first to make available detailed sales data to take a look at the impact.

Lead researcher Dr Rosemary Hiscock – also from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the university – added: ‘Falling tobacco industry revenues suggest the new legislation has played a role in stopping formerly lucrative brand differentiation.

‘For many years, the tobacco industry had used packaging to signal the difference between premium and cheap cigarette brands. Smokers are often willing to pay markedly more for premium brands.’

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