Healthcare Blog

Tougher Restrictions On Tobacco Products, UK

May 13, 2017

Plain cigarette packets with no branding or logos, minimum pack sizes of 20 and a ban on the advertising of cigarette papers are just some of the ideas up for discussion in a move to reduce the number of people who smoke that was announced recently.

The new Department of Health consultation document 'The Future of Tobacco Control', which coincides with World No Tobacco Day, aims to start a debate around further measures that would stop people smoking and prevent young people starting to smoke.

The ideas and proposals in the consultation include:

- removing branding and logos from all tobacco packaging;

- having a minimum pack size of 20 - to stop young people, who can only afford packs of 10, buying cigarettes;

- restricting access to cigarette vending machines by young people - whether by banning vending machines altogether or through systems that only allow adult purchase;

- restricting the display of tobacco products in shops. which may include putting cigarettes under the counter; and

- banning the advertising of smoking paraphernalia, such as cigarette papers.

The take up of smoking in young people is lower than a decade ago, but over 200,000 of all under 16's start smoking each year. As a result they are 3 times more likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their mid-20s.

Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo, said:

"Protecting children from smoking is a Government priority and taking away temptation is one way to do this. If banning brightly coloured packets; removing cigarettes from display; and removing the cheap option of a pack of ten helps save lives, then that is what we should do - but we want to hear everyone's views first.

"Smoking related disease kills 87,000 people a year, the equivalent to the entire population of a major city such as Durham. Despite much progress over the past ten years with 1.9 million fewer smokers since 1998, smoking it is still the biggest killer in England. The number of smokers is declining but we must do more if we are to continue to tackle a public health issue that kills ten times more people a year in England than road traffic accidents."

The consultation is published today on World No Tobacco Day - for which the theme is 'Tobacco-Free Youth'.

The four main consultation themes are:

- protecting children and young people from smoking;

- further reducing smoking rates and health inequalities caused by smoking;

- helping smokers to quit; and

- helping those who cannot quit.

Research has shown that children and young people have been found to be more receptive to tobacco advertising than adults, and that since the ban on tobacco advertising, prominent displays at point of sale have become vital as one of the few remaining means of tobacco promotion. Evidence suggests that this can persuade existing smokers to keep smoking and young non-smokers to start.

Since the ban on tobacco advertising, advertising at the point of sale has become the main route for promoting cigarettes. The large displays and advertising in shops can encourage young people to start and make it more difficult for smokers to kick the habit.

Recent smoking stats show a 2 per cent drop in smokers in Britain (22 per cent down from 24 per cent) and since the introduction of the Smokefree legislation in July 07, an increase of 28 per cent in quit attempts using NHS Stop Smoking Services.

The estimated cost to the NHS of treating smoke related illness is between £1.4 and 1.7 billion per year.

Also revealed today is a new NHS Smokefree advertising campaign which starts on Monday 2nd June. This is aimed at highlighting to parents who smoke that children with smoking parents are three times more likely to become smokers than those with parents who are non-smokers.

Notes:

-- The reference to the population of Durham is based on figures from the 2001 census

-- The consultation can be found here.

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