Tobacco industry dismissed as untrustworthy over arguments to cut smoking

Cancer Research UK

A NEW survey published today (Thursday) shows just over one UK adult in 10 (12 per cent) trusts the tobacco industry’s plans on how to cut smoking rates.

"Public health policy must be based on high quality evidence, not tobacco industry-funded propaganda" - Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco policy

And now Cancer Research UK is reflecting the public mood by urging the government to dismiss the industry’s scare stories of illegal tobacco flooding the UK and lost tax revenue and to introduce plain, standardised tobacco packaging without delay.

With hundreds of children starting to smoke in the UK every day, any delay to the introduction of standardised packs will see more children lured into an addiction that kills 100,000 people in the UK every year.

This call comes as polling* shows just over one in 10 (12 per cent) adults said they trust the tobacco industry’s arguments on policies to reduce rates of smoking to be believable and independent**. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) said they would not trust tobacco industry arguments on these issues.

Earlier this year researchers from the University of Bath demonstrated how the tobacco industry submissions to the UK consultation on standard packaging relied on evidence which was irrelevant or low quality.

A public consultation was first launched on tobacco packaging two years ago. In April 2014 a report by Sir Cyril Chantler was published confirming the likely benefit of removing the slick marketing designs of cigarette packs.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco policy, said: “Cigarettes don’t fall from the sky. They’ve been engineered, manufactured, and marketed by an industry which has known for decades how lethal they are.

“Public health policy must be based on high quality evidence, not tobacco industry-funded propaganda. It’s vital this government continues with plans to reduce the appeal of cigarettes to young people and introduce plain, standardised packs as soon as possible.”

In Australia - the only country to have introduced standard packs – tobacco industry research has claimed that the illicit trade is on the rise, yet even tobacco companies themselves have admitted they are not convinced by the argument that standard packs are easier to counterfeit.

In the UK, the tobacco industry has claimed the black market is ‘booming’, while official figures show the illicit cigarette market has more than halved in recent years.

Kate Pike, from Trading Standards North West, who was interviewed as part of the recent BBC Two ‘Burning Desire’ series, said:  “It’s scaremongering from tobacco companies to claim that standardised packaging will lead to a rise in illegal tobacco. Working together to reduce the demand for tobacco is the best way to tackle the problem.”

“In deterring children from starting to smoke, standard packs will have the precisely the opposite effect on the illicit trade to that being claimed by the tobacco industry”.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4,328 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th - 27th January 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

** Respondents were asked;

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

"I trust the tobacco industry to present believable and independent arguments when discussing issues and policies around reducing smoking rates"

Strongly agree

4%

Tend to agree

7%

Agree (net)

12%

Neither agree nor disagree

19%

Disagree (net)

64%

Tend to disagree

25%

Strongly disagree

39%

Don't know

5%