Retail representative groups including the CSNA and NFRN Ireland have criticised the Regulatory Impact Assessment on plain packaging of tobacco products, published by the Department of Health last week.
Noting that the report made no attempt to quantify the cost and loss to the Exchequer, retailers or manufacturers, the CSNA said that the RIA ' falls so far short of being a vigorous and considered “pros and cons” analysis of introducing plain packaging that it defies belief that the officials delegated to work upon it were carrying out anything other than a “box-ticking” exercise'.
The CSNA added that the RI also makes 'no attempt' to consider how duty-free cigarette products, complete with branding, will affect the effectiveness of the measure. The fact that the RIA was not present during the process through which the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013 was developed is also 'worrying', it said.
NFRN Ireland slammed the report for only offering two policy options - the chosen policy' or 'doing nothing' - saying that 'none of the other alternative policies supported by NFRN Ireland such as anti-smoking education for children, legislative changes to curb the illicit trade or use of sophisticated technology were considered.
'It appears that in breach of Cabinet guidelines, the RIA was written after the policy was decided, not as part of the process of assessing the policy and considering alternatives. As a result, the RIA casually dismisses retailer concerns about the implications of plain packaging for the illicit trade in cigarettes'.
Noting that the publication of the RIA comes just weeks after the largest seizure of tobacco in Europe this year, at Drogheda Port, NFRN Ireland Public Affairs Manager, Deirdre Drennan said, "The size of this seizure proves the level of demand for illicit product in this Country. Government needs to come up with a robust interdepartmental strategy, which is strong enough to tackle the criminals profiteering from this black market, not something that is a token gesture."
© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones