Research conducted in Sydney and recently presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Thoracic Society for Australia and New Zealand found no increase in the proportion of illegal cigarettes since 2012 when Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging on all tobacco products.

Australia’s move to plain packaging mandated that branding be removed from tobacco packaging and be replaced by uniform packaging that displayed brand names in a standardised form.

This new packaging also bore large, graphic picture warnings covering most of the pack. “There have been repeated claims that the introduction of cigarette plain packaging leads to contraband, illegal cigarettes flooding the local market,” said lead researcher Macquarie University professor Matthew Peters in a statement. “What is clear from our survey is that there has been no increase in illegal tobacco use in Sydney.” “Governments overseas have no reason to fear a flood of illicit sales as they progress (to) plain packaging legislation,” said Peters.

According to National Council Against Smoking Executive Director Dr Yussuf Salooyee, the findings counter many of the tobacco industry arguments opposing the introduction of similar legislation in South Africa. “These findings debunk tobacco industry propaganda which claims that plain packaging will increase smuggling,” Salooyee told Health-e News.

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