Japan Tobacco joins fight against plain cigarette packaging design

Japan Tobacco International, the UK's second biggest cigarette seller, has today (26 May) joined the fight against the introduction of standardised, unbranded packaging in the UK.

The company follows Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco, which both filed a suit on Friday against the rules, which could come into effect from May 2016.

The trio are arguing that the removal of branding from cigarette packaging violates English and European Union law and constitutes seizure of property.

“The government cannot deprive people of their property without compensation,” said Marc Firestone, PMI’s general counsel, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I’m optimistic [we will succeed] because I believe the systems of laws and common sense and consumer choice still mean a great amount.”

Under the proposed legislation only the colour brown can be used for packaging, while text must be in grey in "drab" tones. All logos will be removed and instead replaced with graphic health warnings.

In March The Drum spoke to a number of UK design agencies about the proposed legislation, with Hugh Roberts, strategy partner at Design Bridge, arguing that consumers should fight against the plain packaging proposals.

“Design makes the world a better place," he said. "Amongst other things, it helps us make the right choices. So, it seems obvious that by stripping design away from tobacco packaging we are helping consumers to make the right choice; 
the choice to give up smoking or to 
never start.

“But perhaps, by signing up to plain packaging, we are doing something that is even more dangerous to 
society than smoking. We are reducing the freedom of consumers to make their own decisions. We are reducing the ability of people to be individual. 
We are forgetting that consumers are not rational beings, that sometimes we want to make an emotional choice. A choice that is irrational, selfish, stupid – but still makes us happy.

“Plain packaging feels like an 
entirely rational thing to do, but consumers are not robots and we should fight against it.”