Japan International Tobacco has slammed press reports claiming that the Scottish government is set to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

Yesterday, Scottish minister for public health Michael Matheson launched a tobacco control strategy supporting the introduction of standardised packaging among other measures.

However, the Scottish government confirmed it would await the UK government and the other devolved administrations’ responses to the UK-wide consultation on standardised packaging before deciding on the most appropriate legislative option.

Jorge da Motta, managing director of JTI, described the press reports as “wide of the mark”. “The UK Department of Health has yet to publish the findings of its consultation and has recently stated that no decision has been made on this issue,” he said.

“Plain packaging would not have any public health benefits and would hit Scotland’s 5,800 law-abiding independent retailers the hardest. Plain packaging proposals will provide a step-by-step guide for the counterfeiting of legitimate products, and make it even less expensive to copy them; the biggest winners in Scotland would be international criminal gangs.”

Key actions of the Scotland’s tobacco control strategy include:

  • Setting 2034 as a target for a tobacco-free Scotland
  • Supporting the introduction of standardised packaging
  • Investing in education programmes for young people
  • Implementing smoke-free hospital grounds by 2015
  • Delivering a national marketing campaign on the danger of second-hand smoke
  • Setting a target for reducing children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.

Matheson said: “Our vision of a tobacco-free generation is about reaping the health, social and economic benefits that a significant reduction in smoking would bring - it would be an achievement of which we could all be proud.

“That’s why strong and decisive action, like standardised packaging and increased education, are the right steps to prevent young people from taking up smoking.”

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive said: “Replacing glitzy, brightly coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings would be a huge public health achievement and give youngsters one less reason to start smoking.”