Japan Tobacco International has said it would consider legal action against the UK government over plans to enforce plain tobacco packaging as it launched a £2m campaign to battle the proposals
The world’s third-biggest producer of tobacco products launched the campaign on Friday.
It features a range of ads highlighting what it sees as the dangers of enforcing unbranded and standard packaging on tobacco products; and the scant evidence to support the plans, which are currently the subject of a government consultation that concludes next month.
Speaking on Friday, JTI’s UK managing director Martin Southgate told reporters that the company would consider taking legal action against the government to protect its brands if Westminster did not “see sense”.
He said: “We would be prepared to defend our position if it ended up in court but we don’t want to.”
The campaign highlights in particular the risk of standardised or plain packaging making it easier for fake products to find its way into the supply chain.
Southgate said: ““I fail to see how making illicit trade easier can be seen as progress on reducing smoking.”
He also echoed concerns of other critics of the plan that plain packaging for cigarettes could lead to plain packs for other products deemed unhealthy, such as alcohol or fast foods.
““If we succeed in propelling intelligent arguments to the surface – from us or others – we will all benefit from it,” he said.
“Hopefully the Department of Health will re-think its approach and common sense will prevail.”