Scottish Wholesale Association

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The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) is an Edinburgh-based trade association, whose members include British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Imperial Tobacco. 1

“Plain Nonsense”

In May 2012, the SWA launched what it deemed a “robust” campaign, entitled “Plain Nonsense,” against the UK Government’s proposals to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products.
The campaign reiterated long-standing industry arguments against plain packaging, including that “there is no credible evidence that plain packaging will have an impact on smoking rates” that “plain packaging would be a boost to smugglers and counterfeiters, taking business away from legitimate shops” and that it would lead to confused retailers and customers.
Kate Salmon, the chief executive director of the SWA, argued that “This campaign is about protecting small, Scottish family businesses – our members’ customers who own and operate independent retail stores the length and breadth of the country.” 2
The campaign included the opportunity to send a message to the consultation via the Plain Nonsense website.

Campaign Funded by Imperial and BAT

However, the campaign was backed by both BAT and Imperial. In the small print on the Association’s “Plain Nonsense” campaign webpage page it read: “This campaign by the Scottish Wholesale Association has been made possible with support from British American Tobacco UK Ltd.” 3
Likewise, a full-page advert on ‘plain packaging’ (10 September 2012) in Scotland’s Holyrood Magazine, which featured the SWA, was in fact “produced and placed” by Imperial Tobacco, according to health campaigners. 4
In 2013, BAT acknowledged it had granted funding support for the postcard campaign during the consultation.5

Submission to Chantler Review Quotes “Flawed” Evidence

In January 2014, the SWA sent a letter to the UK Government’s Independent Review into Plain Packaging undertaken by Sir Cyril Chantler. The SWA submission was written by Executive Director, Kate Salmon and repeated common tobacco industry arguments against plain packaging, such as it increasing the amount of illicit cigarettes.

“It is clearly the view of the Scottish Wholesale Association that standardised packaging will lead to an increase in counterfeiting and the illicit trade, which amongst other things, is facilitating easier access to tobacco by children. There is no peer reviewed evidence to the contrary.”

The SWA also quoted research by KPMG commissioned by the tobacco industry, which has been dismissed as “flawed” by the Australian Government. 6

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  1. Scottish Wholesale Association, supplier members, accessed August 2016
  2. Scottish Wholesale Association, SWA Launches Robust Campaign Against Plain Packaging, 2 May 2012, accessed June 2013
  3. Scottish Wholesale Association, Plain Nonsense, accessed June 2013
  4. Sheila Duffy, Plain speaking, Letter to Holyrood, 5 October 2012, accessed June 2013
  5. Simon Millson, Group Head of Corporate Affairs for BAT, Letter to Deborah Arnott, ASH, 20 May 2013
  6. K. Salmon, Letter to Cyril Chantler, 9 January 2014