LONDON, April 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
In advance of a UK Government consultation on the marketing of tobacco products, a major international business association has highlighted the need for policymakers to consider carefully some of the wider issues raised by plain-packaging proposals.
A Department for Health consultation paper-to be issued on Monday 16th April-will explore whether tobacco products should be sold in generic packs without branding or trademarks.
Andrew Wilson, Director of Policy at the International Chamber of Commerce in the UK (ICC UK), said: "We understand the rationale for exploring plain packaging on public health grounds, but it's vital that Government maintains an open mind-and, more importantly, an open dialogue with business."
"This is not just an issue for the tobacco industry and health groups. The introduction of plain packaging legislation would break new ground for the UK in terms of how commercial expression is regulated-the possible consequences of which need to be carefully considered for the economy as whole."
Mr Wilson also highlighted particular concerns about the potential impact of plain packaging rules on international trade: "It remains unclear as to whether plain packaging is compatible with a number of the UK's international trade commitments-including important WTO intellectual property agreements. With protectionism on the rise, this is not the time for the UK to be testing the limits of international trade law."
"What might be viewed as a justifiable measure in narrow terms, could set a precedent which would be hugely damaging to global trade. The Government must remain cognisant of this international dimension as it consults with stakeholders in the weeks ahead."
Notes to editors:
1. ICC UK is a cross-sectoral business association which works with governments and businesses worldwide to open up markets, establish a level playing field for enterprise, and promote sensible regulation. Members include the majority of FTSE 100 companies, as well as a range of smaller firms.
2. ICC UK's membership includes a small number of firms from the tobacco sector, contributing less than 4 per cent of the organization's annual income.
SOURCE The International Chamber of Commerce UK