Plain tobacco packs design

Retailers in the UK have linked with their French counterparts in a united front against the “madness” of standardised cigarette packs.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) in the UK and Ireland joined the French Confederation of Tobacconists at a “massive” retailers’ demonstration in Paris on Tuesday.

The UK and Ireland have already adopted plain packaging legislation and standardised packs should start appearing in UK shops from next year. Similar measures are set to go before the French Parliament.

Now the trade associations are imploring the European Commission to call a halt the introduction of standardised packs.

NFRN national president Martyn Brown, said plain packaging gave smugglers and counterfeiters “the green light at the expense of public health and legitimate retailers”.

The policy contravened the European Union’s internal market rules and was most likely illegal under international law,” he claimed.

“We want to European Commission to intervene and stop this madness,” Brown said.

NFRN Ireland president Joe Sweeney, who is attending today’s protest, said: Ireland and the UK are already among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to illicit trade but our governments seem to want to ignore all warnings that plain packaging will be a boon to the organised crime groups that run the smuggling racket on these islands.”