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Marlboro accused of bypassing cigarette packaging laws with branded tins

Marlboro accused of bypassing cigarette packaging laws with branded tins

Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, has been accused of using branded reusable cigarette tins to bypass the strict plain packaging laws that are coming into force in the UK this weekend.

Under the new tobacco laws, all cigarettes will have branding removed in favour of standardised green packaging, while over half of the packaging must be covered in health warnings that are graphic in nature.

Stores will also no longer be allowed to stock packets of 10 cigarettes or smaller sizes of rolling tobacco, as part of a slew of measures designed to curb the appeal of smoking.

The new laws come into force on Saturday (20 May) following a 12-month grace period to allow tobacco firms to phase out old packaging.

However, MPs and anti-smoking campaigners have accused Philip Morris, one of the largest tobacco firms in the world, of evading the rules on the eve of the ban by rolling out reusable tins that look like ordinary cigarette packets.

The tins, which were available in convenience stores across the UK, are printed with the Marlboro logo and carry a “Smoking kills” health warning, but do not feature any of the graphic images required by law. The tins are also the same size and price of a 10-pack of cigarettes, now banned under the new laws.

Alex Cunningham, the Labour MP for Stockton North and a campaigner for plain packaging, called the move an "immature trick" that appeared to be a ploy to protect Marlboro branding after the ban is enforced.

“It’s against the whole spirit of what’s intended with the plain packaging legislation,” he told the Guardian.

“The tobacco companies will stop at nothing in order to retain their branding and sell a product that everyone knows has such tremendous health risks. It’s an immature trick and I hope people will soon put them into their bins and they’ll find their way to the recycling centre.”

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