Rumours about possible calls to introduce plain packaging in the food and drinks industry has turned  attention towards their actual efficacy in deterring consumption of certain products.

Plain packaging is intrinsically associated with tobacco given that it has been the first category in the FMCG market to be forced to adopt standardize packs banning brand logos and colours. As such, studies and surveys about the effectiveness of such legislation in the tobacco category should be considered before extending the policy to other industries.

Australia was the first country in the world to implement plain packaging legislation which became effective in December 2012, followed by the UK in 2016. , GlobalData’s Q4 2015 consumer survey unveiled that plain tobacco packaging did not influence 78% of Australian smokers who said they continued to buy their usual tobacco brand while, only 9% of them were encouraged to quit smoking.

The findings have been confirmed late this year from research carried out by CanvasU poll on behalf of Japan Tobacco International.  CanvasU interviewed over 2,000Australian adults (18+) in a nationally representative online survey in November 2017 in order to understand Australians’ views five years after the implementation of cigarettes’ plain packaging. , The research found that the majority (59%) of Australians think that standardized tobacco packaging has been ineffective.

With this in mind, governments should have a better thought about the possibility of extending standardized packaging to other FMCG categories with the purpose of deterring consumers to purchase “villain” products, such as tobacco or food and drinks high in sugar, such as confectionery or chocolate.

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