Following significant pressure from tobacconists, Hungary has decided to postpone the introduction of neutral cigarette packets. The announcement was made on December 13, 2018 to the relief of the country’s tobacconist union. According to Antal Lengyel, a member of the Alliance of Hungarian Retailers, tobacconists were not prepared for the significant shift in the marketing of tobacco products. They should, however, be ready for neutral cigarette packets by 2022 (initially, the shift was planned for May 20, 2017).
There are a significant number of smokers in Hungary. Indeed, a study carried out at the end of 2016 by Eurostat revealed that the country has twice as many smokers as Sweden or England. Unfortunately for its citizens, Hungary has the second highest smoking rate in the entire European Union. The rise in the number of smokers led to an increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes, averaging a jump from 3.60 Euros to 4.10 Euros in the last year and a half.
The effects of the neutral packet on tobacco sales
Some countries have taken a strict stance against tobacco addiction. In 2012, Australia was the first country to make neutral cigarette packets mandatory. Ireland was the first country in Europe to require anonymous packaging; France followed suit in January 2017.
By requiring neutral packets, governments are hoping to make tobacco less attractive to consumers. Photos of the health dangers associated with tobacco are intended to discourage people from consuming, but do these measures have a real effect on smokers?
In France, according to data provided by the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), enforcing neutral cigarette packets has had very little effect on cigarette sales. In 2017, sales only dropped by 0.7%, and almost 30% of French citizens still smoke traditional cigarettes.