Sir: Martin Southgate, CEO of JTI, is apparently frustrated at the price of tobacco rising above inflation (even though the industry also pushes up the price) and the fact that smokers are trading down to cheaper brands, thus affecting the company’s margins (‘A step too far’, 11 August). No doubt he will be even more frustrated in light of the ruling by the High Court in Australia this week, which has upheld the government’s right to put tobacco products in plain packaging to protect health.
But the article used our statistics in a disingenuous way. A fall in smoking prevalence of about 0.4% per annum may not sound much but it translates to around three million fewer smokers over a decade. Youth smoking has halved, thanks in no small part to the 2002 tobacco ad ban.
The logical next step is to ban the last vestiges of tobacco promotion currently found on cigarette packs. The point of sale display ban is important but not sufficient. Packs will only remain hidden from view while on shelves but once in the hands of smokers they become mobile billboards. Plain packaging would not affect an adult’s decision to smoke but would deter a new generation taking up the habit and for that reason it is entirely justified.
Amanda Sandford, research manager, ASH