Plain cigarette packaging can open doors to counterfeiters

I write regarding the Singapore Government's intention to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products, which is designed to curtail the uptake of smoking (Plain packaging planned for cigarettes; Nov 1).

The evidence from Australia and the United Kingdom shows that plain packaging did not achieve its desired objective.

Instead, in the UK, it has only resulted in an increase in illegal activity involving the illicit trading of tobacco products.

Packaging manufacturing involves a number of bespoke processes including printing, hot foil stamping, vignettes within the print design, embossing, debossing plus the use of matt or gloss varnish combinations, all adding to specification complexity.

Plain packaging eliminates (unique) features, allowing for a simpler specification that opens the door to counterfeiters.

The introduction of plain packaging eliminates these features, allowing for a simpler specification that opens the door to counterfeiters.

The UK is now experiencing an unprecedented rise in counterfeit packaging containing tobacco products, which has extended across the country from the industrial urban centres to the rural districts.

Singapore should take note of these experiences and be mindful that the unintended consequences of introducing a plain packaging policy for tobacco will potentially lead to the same serious issues for the country and its citizens.

Mike Ridgway

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2018, with the headline 'Plain cigarette packaging can open doors to counterfeiters'. Print Edition | Subscribe