Public health experts have given a warm welcome to the UK government’s announcement that it is moving forward with plans to ban branding on cigarette packs. Regulations on the standardised ‘plain’ packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products are to be brought to a vote in Parliament before the General Election in May.

This move will prevent cigarettes being sold in attractive packaging, and help to protect the next generation of children and young people from starting to smoke. Two thirds of current smokers started as children, and one in two long-term smokers will die from smoking-related disease.

In Australia – the first country to introduce standardised tobacco packaging – total consumption of cigarettes and tobacco in the first quarter of 2014 was the lowest ever, and the Australian ‘National Drug Strategy Household Survey’ for 2013/14 showed that the proportion of daily smokers aged 14 years or older in Australia fell from 16.6% in 2007 to 12.8% in 2013. Despite this, the tobacco industry has been lobbying the UK Government with misleading claims about the effects of standard packs.

“Every day a classroom full of children take up smoking in Wales. We are delighted that the UK government has resisted pressure from the tobacco industry and now plans to pass regulations on standardised ‘plain’ packaging in this parliament. Standard packs have the backing of public health professionals, decision makers and two thirds of the Welsh public. It’s time to take away the last form of tobacco advertising to our children and look towards a smokefree generation."

Elen de Lacy, Chief Executive of ASH Wales

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To find out more about standardised packaging, visit our topic page here.