New laws regarding cigarettes come into force in the UK this weekend. Amongst them is a law on plain packaging, which must all be the same shade of murky green, with the brand name in a standard font and no logos.
However, Marlboro has been accused of trying to sidestep the rule by introducing reusable tins, which look like its old cigarette packs, just days before the plain-packaging law is introduced tomorrow.
The tins are on sale at a number of retailers today and cost the same as a normal ten-pack. Under the new laws as well as being 'the ugliest colour in the world' (researchers found), new packaging will need to be 65 percent covered in health warnings. The tins do not have any of the graphic imagery we usually see on cigarette packets, but do carry a 'smoking kills' warning.
Credit: Tobacco Control Research Group, University of Bath
Karen Reeves-Evans, of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, told the Sun: "By offering packs of ten in reusable tins, Philip Morris International is knowingly increasing the lifespan of packs of ten and promoting its brand, if smokers decant their cigarettes into these small branded tins.
"The fact that these tins appeared almost immediately prior to the branding and size restrictions coming into force is suspicious."
As of tomorrow, as well as plain packaging, retailers will no longer be able to sell ten-packs.
Philip Morris, who own Marlboro, have said only a 'relatively small number' of the tins were sent to retailers and stock would have run out by the weekend.
Labour MP Alex Cunningham was also unimpressed with the move from Marlboro, telling 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. I hope people will soon put them into their bins and they'll find their way to the recycling centre."
The new laws are aimed at deterring people from smoking.
By ensuring the minimum price of cigarettes is £8.82 (for 20), regulators are hoping young people will never pick up the habit in the first place. Some flavoured tobacco will also be banned to make smoking less appealing.
Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), told the Hull Daily Mail: "Cigarettes are already expensive and the price increase of cigarettes is a key factor in making people quit smoking.
"So by removing the packet of ten cigarettes, this means people will have to find that extra money for a packet. It will hit poorer smokers harder, who are usually younger smokers.
"Paying £3 or £4 for a packet of ten cigarettes at the moment might not seem so much to people and still leave them with change in their pockets.
"But when you have to spend £6/£7, even £9, people may think, 'Do I really need this packet?'"
Featured Image Credit: PA