The Cochrane Review found that standardised (plain) packs could also reduce the appeal of tobacco and increase calls to quit helplines.
The study estimated that the number of people who smoked in the UK could go down by 0.5% by May 2018.
The review looked at evidence from 51 studies, involving 800,000 people, on the impact of standardised packaging on smokers’ attitudes and behaviour.
The review predicted that there may be no change in the number of cigarettes smoked by those continuing to smoke; there could be a 6% increase in people trying to give up smoking, and an increase in calls to quit smoking helplines.
The review found indications that more people were trying to quit smoking as a result of plain cartons, rising from 20.2% before to 26.6% after introduction.
Prof Ann McNeill, lead review author from King’s College London, said there was evidence that standardised packaging made people less likely to be motivated to smoke, and even claimed that it could reduce ‘cravings’ for tobacco.
“It would appear that the impact of standardised packaging may be affected by the detail of the regulations such as whether they ban descriptors, such as ‘smooth’ or ‘gold’ and control the shape of the tobacco pack,” she said.
Giles Roca, director general of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, said: “This report destroys the rationale for the introduction of plain packaging by finding no evidence that it actually acts a deterrent to young people in taking up smoking – this was at the core of the government’s and health campaigners’ argument for its introduction.”
Mike Ridgway, from the Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance (CPMA), said tobacco control advocates were quoting figures regarding declining rates with no supportive evidence to back them up.
“Plain packaging has not lawfully become effective yet in the UK and any reductions, if any, are purely hypothetical. The real evidence is from the Australian experience which is unclear even after four years of plain packaging where some studies are even showing an increase in smoking rates by young people.What is certain in Australia is that the regular increases in taxation are driving consumers to purchase from the uncontrolled illicit market which is now approaching some 15% and can only increase as it will do in the UK over time.”
Source: News – Packaging News