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Take the temptation out of tobacco packs says Fresh

Fresh has welcomed draft Regulations published today by the Government to take the temptation out of tobacco packaging – but says MPs must be able to vote on these before the General Election to ensure that they become a reality.


The Government today published draft Regulations on standardised packaging, which would remove colourful tobacco logos from tobacco boxes and replace them with standardised packs with more prominent health warnings.


In Australia, standardised packs with larger health warnings were introduced in December 2012 and new figures reveal tobacco consumption has never been lower. New data from the Australian Treasury shows3.4 per cent fewer cigarettes were sold last year than 2012.


An independent review of the evidence by Sir Cyril Chantler published in April reported there is a strong public health case for the policy, with no evidence that standardised packs would result in an increase in illegal tobacco. Around 9,000 North East children start smoking every year, and evidence shows branded tobacco packaging makes it more tempting for children.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh Smoke Free North East, said: "We hugely welcome this step forward but the timescale is tight. We are calling on David Cameron to ensure there is a vote in Parliament before the General Election if standardised packs are to be in place by 2016.


"Every day we wait more children are starting to smoke. Doctors, MPs, every North East council and thousands of smokers and non-smokers have said we need standardised packs to help make smoking history for more children.


"North East young people have told us that the packs from Australia look more poisonous and less appealing than branded packs. Some young smokers have even told us the packs would make them try harder than they ever have before to quit.


"Tobacco companies are fighting hard to say this won't work, but cigarettes are the most deadly consumer product on shop shelves. Half of long term smokers will die early. A product that kills 100,000 people in the UK each year should not be gift wrapped in a way like sweets or perfume."


Evidence shows that standardised packaging will make tobacco packs less attractive to children and young people, stop colours like white and silver being used to wrongly suggest lower harm, and make health warnings stand out more.


The latest YouGov poll found that 69% of North East adults support plain standardised packs, with only 9% opposing. It also found more smokers nationally support plain, standardised packs than oppose them (37% compared with 35% who oppose).



Notes to editors

Australia was the first country to introduce standardised packaging, in December 2012. Soon after standardised packs began to appear in Australian shops, smokers reported that they found cigarettes from plain packs less appealing or satisfying and were more likely to think about quitting. There was also a big increase in the number of people contacting smoking quitlines following the introduction of the new packs.

On 28th November 2013, the Government announced that it had appointed the eminent paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler to conduct an independent review into the public health impact of the standardised packaging of cigarettes and tobacco products. The announcement followed Parliamentary votes to include in the Children and Families Bill powers for the Health Secretary to introduce regulations on standardised packaging in England. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments have also supported the policy.

The Chantler review has also concluded that standardised packaging need not increase the illicit trade in tobacco, rejecting claims from the tobacco industry. All the key security features on existing packs of cigarettes would also be present on standardised packs (including coded numbering and covert anti-counterfeit marks).

Andrew Leggett, Deputy Director for Tobacco and Alcohol Strategy at HM Revenue and Customs has said that "We're very doubtful that it would have a material effect [on counterfeiting and the illicit trade in tobacco]".