There is “no good evidence” that the introduction of standardised cigarette packs would lead to an increase in smuggling, according to a group of MPs and peers.
Tobacco companies have argued that there would be an increase in illicit trade if standardised packs were introduced because they would be easy to counterfeit.
But the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health said that existing packaging was already “cheaply and readily” copied. It added that enforcement agencies did not rely on pack design to test whether packs were illegal – instead they used security features which could be present on plain packs.
A government consultation on plans to introduce plain packs for tobacco products ended in August. Health officials are still examining the information generated.
In December, Australia became the first country to put all tobacco products in packs of the same colour with only the brand name and graphic warnings visible.
Liberal Democrat MP Stephen William, chairman of the group, said: “Contrary to tobacco industry propaganda there is no good reason to think that standardised packs will increase illicit trade.”
He added that plain packaging would cut the number of children in the UK – thought to be 567 a day – who started smoking.