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Established in 2003, Populus is a private research and strategy consultancy based in the UK that has worked in over 75 markets globally. As advertised on its website, the company “use polling, research, evidence and expertise to provide clients with the critical knowledge they need to succeed. Our work helps them identify, understand and influence the critical issues and audiences that can make the difference between success and failure.”1
Its team includes “experts in qualitative, quantitative and omnibus research, as well as senior strategists from the worlds of business, politics, marketing and communications.”

Links to Tobacco Industry

In June 2012, Populus was commissioned by Philip Morris International (PMI) to conduct a survey of UK policy officers to gain insight into their views on plain packaging and illegal tobacco. The consultancy interviewed 501 policy officers currently serving in law enforcement of a varied seniority.
Of those interviewed, the survey concluded that:

  • 86% believed plain packaging would make it easier to produce counterfeit cigarettes;
  • 68% believed it would lead to an increase in illicit trade
  • 60% believed it would result in kids to purchase illicit cigarettes where cheap and available.2

Cited in PMI UK Consultation Submission

When arguing that plain packaging would increase illicit trade in the UK, PMI cited Populus’ survey:

“In a recent Populus survey of current UK police officers, nearly 80% said that the government already does not provide sufficient resources to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco, 91% said that recent public sector resource cuts make fighting the illicit trade more difficult, and 84% said that they would not have the resources necessary to deal with a plain packaging driven increase in illicit trade.138 On the whole, law enforcement officers believed that to deal with an increase in illicit trade they would need more financial and human resources (81%), as well as training to be able to identify counterfeit and contraband products (85%). Unfortunately, under plain packaging, many of the common authentication features used by law enforcement officers to identify counterfeit products will disappear.”3

Follow Up Survey:2014

In May 2014, PMI commissioned a follow up survey by Populus.4

Relevant TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. Populus, About Populus, accessed July 2014
  2. Populus, UK Law Enforcement Views on Illegal Tobacco and Plain Packaging, Philip Morris International, June 2012, accessed July 2014
  3. Philip Morris International, Standardised tobacco packaging will harm public health and cost UK taxpayers billions: A response to the Department of Health consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products, Philip Morris International, 9 August 2012, accessed July 2014
  4. Populus, Law Enforcement Survey, Philip Morris International, May 2014, accessed September 2016