“It’s official – Govt gives up on public health policy” was how one tweet summed-up the announcement today that the government has put its plans to introduce standardised tobacco packaging on hold.
The statement that accompanied the consultation response offered the explanation that the government “has decided to wait until the emerging impacts of standardised tobacco packaging in Australia”.
It’s a reason we don’t accept, because doing nothing while 570 children start smoking every day in the UK, is simply not an option.
Public health has been a duty of government since the Romans built aqueducts – yet the public health of society’s most vulnerable is being inexcusably neglected here; children being lured into an addiction that kills one in two of its long-term users.
This decision means that lives will be lost.
That’s why our message of defiance is clear. The government may think that they can ‘kick this into the long grass’ but the spotlight on the issue has only brought it sharper into focus, and we’re unequivocal that standard packs will not be cast into the wilderness.
You only need to look at some of today’s media coverage, to determine the nationwide interest in this issue:
- The BBC reported Labour attacks Tories over plain cigarette ‘U-turn’
- Sky News covered Plans for plain cigarette packaging shelved
- The Guardian ran with UK plans for plain cigarette packaging to be shelved
- The Mail Online Stubbed out: Ministers axe plans for plain-pack cigarettes sparking huge row with cancer charities
- The Independent reported Anger as plans to standardise cigarette packaging are left on the shelf
- Whilst the Financial Times covered the story UK drops plans for plain cigarette packs [Paywall]
Just a quick look at Twitter highlights the full-extent of anger from politicians, public health experts and public alike. And if you need a reminder of why this is so urgent, watch this video:
This was a UK-wide consultation, and health ministers in the devolved nations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – had already written to Jeremy Hunt urging him to press-ahead with standard packs UK-wide.
With today’s announcement, signalling that their wishes have been ignored, Scotland has moved onto the front-foot and is “still committed” to standardised packaging. We fully welcome this re-commitment.
Our Chief Executive Dr Harpal Kumar called the decision “extraordinary” on Radio Four’s Today Programme, referring to the overwhelming evidence that standard packs will make tobacco less attractive to children.
It would be extraordinary if the government truly believed they could hide-away standard packs in the long grass. Because, to paraphrase a Prime Minister who didn’t shy away from a fight, our message is simple: ‘We will fight them in the long grass – we will never surrender’.
Joseph Kravitz October 27, 2013
Too many efforts are invested and too much money is expected by huge tobacco companies from their business to surrender. Many new websites appear selling tobacco products and cigarettes, so I can’t believe this business will die.
Vincent Kolodziej September 24, 2013
I don’t know any person that started smoking cigarettes because of their package picture. I don’t believe that plain package is really a good method for helping people quit smoking. But the one thing I agree – we should prevent our children from starting smoking. And it will be more effective if we choose traditional methods – like education and by self example.
Andrew Jordaan July 19, 2013
Whatever Is going on at cancer research, its about time they examined their one sided myopic support for an industry that, in the last decade alone, has been fined 6 billion for fraud.
RobbieW July 16, 2013
Banning nice packaging will save some lives, allowing e-cgs to continue to be regulated as a general consumer item will save many many more.
Why does CRUK agree with the packaging proposals but would like to see all existing e-cigs taken off the market?
David Collins July 13, 2013
Nice hijack attempt Gordon. Very subtle. I can see why you are mistaken for an astro tuff lobbyist … “I don’t wish to resurrect the e-cig thread here but…” LOL …but can we stay on topic please. ( by the way. I like Gordon. He is knowledgable and passionate about his cause. And there is nothing wrong with that. And he is a gentleman, a trait sadly missing in some who respond to CRUK posts on tobacco. He’s on twitter @GordonAlanBeard )
Bill Walker July 13, 2013
Plain packaging of cigarettes is working in Australia. The horrific images on the packages certainly makes kids think twice.
The Aussie Government had to fight the big cigarette companies in court …and won.
UK Government seems to be in the pockets of BAT and the other big ciggie companies.
More smokers = more health issues = more cost to the tax payer.
Come on UK people …you can do better.
Gordon Beard July 13, 2013
Personally as an ex-smoker with children and taught in a very deprived area of Stoke-on-Trent I find the whole campaign extraordinary . I don’t think I have seen any evidence that there is a direct link between 50-60-70% warning ads or plain packaging of cigs and take-up of children .
I don’t wish to resurrect the e-cig thread here but really think the efforts and indignation of the plain-packaging advocates are misplaced . Surely the most important result is reducing the uptake of young people into smoking . Where do the children obtain their cigarettes from .. I suggest older family members or even parents its very easy for little Joe to “steal” a few from there , not so with a full bodied e-cig ( PV)
I am not a tobacco or “Astroturf” lobbyist as one Irish MEP described the people advocating e-cigs I just genuinely believe that they could be the huge prize that some Public Health figures like West,Bates,Stimson advocate whereas Plain Packaging to me is totally irrelevant in the take up of children into smoking , I stand to be corrected by something more than a hunch it may have an impact on take-up
Jonathan Bagley July 12, 2013
Your hypocrisy is breathtaking. If you cared about preventing cancer, you would not be supporting the EU Tobacco Directive, which will effectively ban ecigs by my making them unattractive to the 1,000,000 UK smokers who, according to ASH UK, are using them. One can only conclude that you care more about your Pharmaceutical Industry funding than the health risk from smoking. You should welcome the coming obselescence of the useless patches, gum and inhalators which, together with the smoking ban, have not managed to reduce the smoking rate from 21% during the last 5 years. The desperation of the Anti Tobacco Industry in now accusing the thousands who have quit smoking using ecigs of being in the pay of the Tobacco Industry would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
David Collins July 12, 2013
Your paraphrasing of Churchill is quite apt. Mr Cameron is fast becoming a Neville Chamberlain figure with his blatant attempts at appeasing the Right Wing Libertarian idealist who are threatening his leadership. We all know how History potrays Chamberlain Mr Cameron. Is that to be your fate?. Strong unselfish leaders who put the country before personal considerations are what this country needs. If you are not up to the job Mr Cameron let parliament decide. You will not be allowed to kick this quietly into the long grass. And if you think you can hide there with it. Think again.