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Plain packaging and minimum excise tax on tobacco effectively reduced tobacco sales
The United Kingdom (UK) has fully implemented plain packaging and minimum excise tax on tobacco since 2017. A recent study found that the measures significantly reduced tobacco sales and tobacco industry revenue.

Plain packaging reduces attractiveness of tobacco packets by removing brand elements and increasing salience of health warnings; while minimum excise tax reduces the ability of the tobacco industry to sell tobacco products at cheap prices. These measures came in full force in the UK in May 2017. Researchers at the University of Bath evaluated the effectiveness of the measures by comparing tobacco sales before and after implementation. Compared with pre-implementation, the average monthly tobacco sales decreased by an extra 6.4 million sticks, the sales of cheap cigarettes stopped increasing, and the monthly net revenues of the tobacco industry significantly reduced by £31 million (approximately HK$320 million) post-implementation. Despite the decline in tobacco sales, government records showed no increase in illicit tobacco trade. The findings showed that the measures were effective in discouraging tobacco consumption, particularly cheap cigarettes, which are attractive to young and price sensitive people.

COSH strongly urges the Hong Kong Government to make reference to the successful precedent of the UK, adopting plain packaging and increasing tobacco tax to reduce smoking. The Government should also formulate a timeline for a total ban on smoking to strive for smoke-free Hong Kong.

Source: Tobacco Control
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