“Many independent surveys” have shown that plain packaging has had no “visible effect” on smokers’ numbers, the federation of cigarette manufacturers of Belgium and Luxembourg, Cimabel, said on Tuesday. The federation was reacting to a study showing that most Belgians were in favour of plain packaging.
For Cimabel, plain packages are a “frontal attack” on the rights of the brands it represents. “Tobacco is a legal product, so it’s a personal choice,” Cimabel added.
So far, plain packaging is not an obligation at the European level; it is simply a possibility envisaged by the European Union from 2020.
The measure has been tabled by Public Health Minister Maggie De Block. For it to take effect during this legislative session, the Government would have to come to a decision before Parliament goes on vacation on the 21st of July. This explains the feverish activity of both its defenders and its detractors.
In a survey commissioned by the Foundation against Cancer, 61% of respondents thought neutral packaging should be compulsory, 23% were against this and 16% had no opinion on the issue.