The Daily Express: Crackdown on sugar, tobacco and booze ‘will cause job cuts’

By Cyril Dixon

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Thousands of jobs are at risk thanks to a crusade for plain packaging on food, drink and cigarettes, campaigners warned yesterday.

Health experts want to ban eye-catching packs in a bid to discourage people from smoking, drinking alcohol and eating fattening foods.

They seek to replace “high-visibility” branded bags, wrappers and boxes with colourless containers displaying nutritional information.

Pressure group Endangered Species claims Coca-Cola cans, Grant’s Scotch whisky bottles and Kellogg’s cereal boxes are among consumer icons under threat.

The group – formed to resist the plain packs revolution – says the move would have a “major economic impact” on revenue and jobs.

Vulnerable

Founder Ron Cregan said a recent consultants’ report estimated that the beverage industry alone would lose an estimated £230billion worldwide.

“If you grew up with characters like Popeye, the Honey Monster and the Jolly Green Giant, be prepared to say good-bye.

“Even good old Captain Bird’s Eye could be in for stormy waters.

“Alcohol, sugar, fast food and other products are now required to carry health warnings.

“Drinks brands in particular are most vulnerable to the threat of labelling censorship.

“It is difficult to quantify what will happen economically, but there will be a major impact. It has moved from a threat to a clear and present danger.”

Britain introduced plain packs for cigarettes and tobacco products last year in the drive to stop people smoking. But some health experts want to widen the move to include alcohol and unhealthy foods, such as those that are high in fat or sugar.

This week, the Irish government passed the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which aims to restrict the visibility through the use of plain packs.

Mr. Cregan said British legislators have regularly followed the “knock-on effect” of Ireland on initiatives such as the ban on smoking in public places.

A report last December by consultants Brand Finance estimated that the beverage industry will lose about £230 billion from the plain packaging move.

Mr. Cregan added: “What is wrong with us, as individuals, choosing one brand over another as we have always done? After all, brands are all about choice and emotion.

“The debate must start around how brands can retain their identity and the ability to delight and engage, whilst keeping consumers properly informed before it is too late.”