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Plain cigarette packets considered

Draft law could force every manufacturer to adopt standard packaging, with no logos or colours, to discourage consumers

CIGARETTE manufacturers and tobacconists have reacted with anger to a proposed law that would ban logos and other branding from packets sold in France.

An MP in Nicolas Sarkozy’s governing UMP party is about to submit draft legislation to parliament that, if passed, would make every cigarette packet in France identical.

Logos would be banned, with the name of the brand instead appearing in a small box at the bottom of the packet, in a uniform typeface on a sombre background.

The rest of the front of the packet would be taken up by a large shock image of the damage smoking does to the body.

Bas-Rhin MP Yves Bur, a long-standing anti-smoking campaigner, said the plain packaging would help stop making the cigarette “an object of desire”.

He told Le Parisien: “Packaging is the only means the tobacco industry has left of advertising. It is an incredible marketing tool. A lot of work goes into the colours and the logos to attract young people.”

Anti-smoking group the Comité National Contre le Tabagisme said the uniform packaging would “allow thousands of lives to be saved by ridding cigarette packets of their cool image”.

British American Tobacco said the idea was “incredibly stupid” and taking away a packet’s defining characteristics would lead to more contraband cigarettes appearing on the market.

The Confédération des Débitants de Tabac, which represents tobacconists in France, said there was no evidence that the plain packaging would stop people buying cigarettes.

The group also said that having an array of identical-looking packets would make tobacconists’ work more difficult.

The Health Ministry says it would like to wait and see what effect new shock pictures on packets have on cigarette consumption before considering a further step towards plain packaging.

Every cigarette packet sold in France will have to carry photos of the damage smoking does under a law passed earlier this year.

One of 14 images will take up 40% of the space on the back of every packet sold in France, with messages such as "Smokers die early" and "Smoking causes deadly lung cancer".

Producers and tobacconists have until the middle of next year to use up their existing stocks.

Related story:
Cigarette shock pics confirmed

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