The director of policy, government and corporate relations at the Australian Retailers Association has told Retail Intelligence that there as been "no movement" in terms of the numbers smoking in Australia, since the introduction of plain packaging in Australia, however, the illicit trade has grown "significantly."
Heath Michael, who was in Dublin yesterday, said that the introduction of plain packaging in 2012 in Australia "has effectively placed a considerable cost burden on retailers and opened up a black market that wasn’t there before."
Australia did not carry out a Regulatory Impact Assessment in advance of the introduction of plain packaging, he explained, and "went into this absolutely blind. Ireland doesn’t have to go into is absolutely blind, but it will if it does so in the proposed time frame." To date, the Irish government is still to carry out an RIA on the measures proposed.
He suggested that the Irish government delay its decision on whether to introduce plain packaging for 12 to 18 months, as any evidence as to its effectiveness to date in Australia has been anecdotal.
"Don’t rush in like we did, and don’t let your retailers suffer the economic impact that we went through, until you’ve actually researched and proven the case. We simply don’t have the evidence yet."
Historically, he said that "Australians are very brand loyal" when it comes to tobacco, however "by taking away the branding and the brand loyalty, consumers have started to look at other options. There is the emergence of a black market, not just from casual traders, but also from less scrupulous retailers."
Michael has invited Minister Simon Coveney, who will be visiting Australia on St. Patrick’s Day, to meet with Australian retailers on the ground and learn from their day-to-day experience.
Last week, representatives from the tobacco industry and the Law Society of Ireland addressed the Oireachtas Health Committee on the issue of plain packaging, with the Law Society's Ken Murphy saying that the “stakes would be very high” in terms of a legal battle over intellectual property rights.
Pictured is Heath Michael alongside Benny Gilsenan of Retailers Against Smuggling.
© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones