The UK smokers’ group, Forest, is calling for an independent review of the impact of standardized tobacco packaging.

The call comes after what Forest says have been five years of failure following the imposition of standardized tobacco packaging in Australia.

Commenting on today’s fifth anniversary of the introduction of standardised packs in Australia, Forest’s director, Simon Clark, said standardized packaging had been a “spectacular” failure in Australia.

“We were told it would deter people from smoking but the effect has been minimal,” he said.

“Data shows plain packaging has had no impact on the prevalence of smoking in Australia, which is the same now as it was in 2013.

“In fact, because of population growth, more people are smoking in Australia than five years ago.”

Clark said that smokers didn’t care about packaging. “It’s the product not the pack that matters,” he said.

“Plain packaging is no deterrent to teenagers either. Few people ever started smoking because they were attracted to the pack.”

The UK government followed Australia’s lead and introduced standardized packaging in 2016.

And now Clark is urging the UK government to commission an independent review of the impact of standardized packaging as part of its new tobacco control plan that was announced in July.

“Policies,” he said, “should be evidence-based. Plain packaging is based not on evidence but on wishful thinking.

“The measure has failed in Australia and it will fail in the UK.”

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