LONDON: Big tobacco is worried. Not only in the UK, where the government is mulling a ban on the branding of cigarette packs, but also in other parts of the world where local administrations might follow suit.
The anti-tobacco lobby believes the removal of pack branding would be the most powerful weapon yet deployed in the war on smoking.
As does the tobacco industry, which fears the move would decimate profits and inflict substantial damage on manufacturers.
The British Department of Health will shortly decide whether to outlaw the use of logos, colours and graphics on packets, instead requiring that they be sold in plain packaging.
Tobacco Journal International reports Morgan Stanley's prediction that "if generic packaging becomes a legal requirement in the UK, not only could it have a domino effect on other markets, but it could also have a materially adverse impact on cigarette brand equity [and] could result in considerably reduced profits".
Says Morgan's David Adelman: "If plain packaging were adopted in the UK, some other nations would most likely mandate [it] as well."
Public health officials are convinced that generic packaging will divest cigarettes of their glamorous image, thereby reducing the number of young people taking up the habit.
But the tobacco industry – selflessly concerned for the welfare of others – fears that such restrictions will lead to a rise in cigarette smuggling and more widespread counterfeiting of tobacco products, which would in turn threaten the livelihoods of small retailers.
Data sourced from Guardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff