Today (Monday) marks two years since plain, standardised tobacco packaging was introduced to Australia.
The pioneering move has led to falling smoking rates and support is on the rise. Contrary to some scaremongering there has been no sign of illegal tobacco or cheaper brands flooding the market.
Cancer Research UK is marking the two year anniversary of Australia’s world first with a renewed call on the UK government to introduce standard packs here without delay.
Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said: “This is an anniversary worth celebrating. Australia took the lead on this issue and two years later they’re reaping the rewards.
“Smoking rates have fallen, more people than ever support standard packs and scare stories about flooding the market with cheap, illegal tobacco have failed to materialise. It’s been a resounding success in Australia and we’re confident the same can happen here.
“Research has shown that removing the colourful designs of tobacco packs reduces the appeal of smoking to children. This measure will help cut the number of people killed by smoking and we’re urging the UK government to take the next steps as soon as possible.”
Public consultation on standard packs in the UK began in April 2012 and Parliament overwhelmingly backed the measure at the end of 2013. Since then there has been an independent review by paediatric expert Sir Cyril Chantler and a consultation on the regulations for the new standardised packs is now being reviewed by the government.
Parliament will need to vote again ahead of the General Election next May before the new packs can be introduced.
Sarah Woolnough added: “It’s taken a long time and a lot of effort to reach this point but the government must dedicate its efforts to make standardised packs a reality in this Parliament. More than 100,000 people die every year from smoking-related diseases, making it the number one cause of preventable deaths in the UK. These news packs will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.”
For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.