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Support for standardised ‘plain’ packaging

During the campaign for standardised plain packaging, a number of members of the Smokefree Action Coalition pledged their support and welcomed the government’s announcement to review the evidence and introduce preparatory legislation. You can read what they said below.


“The government’s decision introduce legislation on the standardised packaging of cigarettes and tobacco products is a victory for public health, for common sense and for future generations.

“Everyone who cares about the health of children and about reducing the toll of deaths and disease caused by smoking should welcome this announcement. The Government deserves credit for listening to public health experts and proceeding with legislation. We are absolutely delighted.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH

ASH Scotland

“The abrupt turnaround in the Westminster Coalition’s approach to plain, standardised packaging is welcome and testifies to the never-say-die campaign run by SFAC partners. We always knew that the evidence was behind us, but what remained was the hard work of pushing that evidence to the front of the debate, against a tide of tobacco industry misinformation and red herrings. We now hope that it won’t be long before children across the UK receive this additional protection from tobacco industry marketing.”

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland

ASH Wales

“This decision is a victory for public health as well as our young people who will be protected from the glossy packaging that has become an increasingly powerful marketing tool for the tobacco industry.

“14,500 children aged between 11 and 15 start smoking each year in Wales and we need to do everything we can to reduce those numbers. Young people we have spoken to have described current cigarette packs as ‘cool’, like perfume boxes, posh tissues and Lego. Ugly packaging will give them one less reason to start.

“We understand the need for a review of the evidence to ensure due process is followed but we know the evidence is growing that standardised packaging works, as is being shown in Australia.”

Elen de Lacy, Chief Executive of ASH Wales

Association of Directors of Public Health

“Tobacco remains our biggest cause of preventable death. Standardised packaging of tobacco would have a big impact on the number of teenagers taking up a lethal addiction. There is strong public support for this measure and the Association of Directors of Public Health welcomes the government’s decision to review the evidence and we hope they will introduce legislation swiftly following the review if it is positive.”

Dr Janet Atherton, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health

Asthma UK

“We are really pleased that the Government is introducing legislation to enable standard packaging for tobacco products. Smoking can bring on asthma symptoms and increase the risk of a potentially fatal asthma attack, so measures to discourage people from smoking and from taking it up, such as standard packaging, are vitally important. Given that recent research has shown that the smoke free laws have led to a drop in hospital admissions for asthma, we are keen to see the Government take the opportunity to introduce standard packaging as soon as possible.”

Emily Humphreys, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Asthma UK

British Heart Foundation

“This is an early Christmas present for all of the campaigners that have been working tirelessly to save young lives. Introducing standardised packs could prevent a generation of young people starting a deadly and highly addictive habit.

“We hope that this decision is the first step towards a policy that changes the way cigarettes are marketed for good and protects the health of many people.”

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation

British Lung Foundation

“We’ve no doubt that an open review of the evidence will confirm this policy as one of huge potential benefit to public health.

“Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable death in this country. By helping cut the number of young people taking it up, implementing this policy could genuinely prove the greatest contribution this government makes to improving the health of the country.

“We strongly expect that, in future, we will be counting the number of lives this legislation has saved into the thousands. And the sooner it is introduced, the greater that number will be.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation

British Medical Association

“It is welcome news that the Government is set to overturn its decision from July and look again at the evidence around the benefits that introducing standardised packaging will bring about. The BMA has long campaigned for the Government to introduce standardised packaging as a way of helping smokers quit and to help non-smokers, especially children who are heavily influenced by tobacco marketing, to never start.

As doctors we see first-hand every day the devastating effects of tobacco addiction and we call on the Government to make a decision quickly and to introduce this at the earliest possible opportunity in order to help put an end to a life-long addiction that kills and destroys health.”

Sheila Hollins, Chair of the Board of Science, British Medical Association

Cancer Research UK

“Stopping cigarettes being marketed to children as a glamorous and desirable accessory is one of the greatest gifts we can give the next generation. “Tobacco is a unique product. It is the only consumable that, when used in the way the manufacturer intends, kills half of its users. Allowing marketing practices that promote this is simply wrong – especially when the result is millions of children being lured in to an addiction that results in death and chronic health problems. “This government’s says it intends to bring in standardised packaging of tobacco which shows great leadership. If this becomes law next year there is no question that it will save thousands of lives in the future.”

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK

Faculty of Public Health

“This is great news, particularly for the 570 children who start smoking every day and who would be protected by the introduction of standard packs. The government has listened to public health experts and we welcome this positive step towards protecting children.

“Whilst there is widespread public support for standardised cigarette packaging, there are two main myths about it that we need to tackle. Firstly, there’s nothing plain about a standard cigarette pack. They are very visual and highly designed.

“Secondly, there is no good reason for standard packs to be easier to smuggle and counterfeit. Standard packs have all the key security features of branded ones. In fact, a senior HM Revenue and Customs official told MPs it was very doubtful that standard packs would be easier to counterfeit.

“Given this, we don’t see any barriers to implementing standard packs legislation as soon as possible. There should be no delay to the implementation of public health policy – for cigarettes, alcohol as well as child sex and relationship education – that is based on solid evidence.”

John Middleton, Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health


“No parent wants their child to smoke whether they smoke or not, and the colourful tobacco packs on our shelves are specifically designed to appeal to young people. The evidence is already there. We are delighted that the Government has listened and taken notice.

“Most smokers start as children. While nothing is done, nearly 9,000 North East children will start smoking each year and tobacco multinationals will be able to attract young people to an addictive, lethal product. Cigarettes should not be gift wrapped as fun products like sweets or chocolate.”

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh

The Lullaby Trust

“We warmly welcome the Government’s decision to make provision for legislation to introduce plain packaging on tobacco products. We know that teenagers are particularly attracted to brands, and pregnant teenagers are more likely to smoke before, during and after their pregnancy. They are also five times more likely to experience the tragedy of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than older mothers. Introduction of plain packaging will reduce the chances of lowering infant mortality and give babies the best possible start in life.”

Francine Bates, Chief Executive at The Lullaby Trust

The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training

“The National Centre for Smoking Cessation & Training (NCSCT) is extremely pleased to hear that the Government will be conducting a further review into the issue of standardised plain tobacco packaging and making provisions for this to be introduced into the legislative system. This is an important development in the campaign to protect future generations from the ill-health and untimely death caused by smoking and offers a vital opportunity to put an end to misleading messages on smoking being projected to impressionable young people. The NCSCT looks forward to seeing the outcomes of this review and supporting implementation in the near future.”

Dr Andy McEwen, Director of the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training

National Children’s Bureau

“Children in poorer communities, and in vulnerable groups such as those in care, are particularly likely to become smokers. The introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products would be an important step in cutting the number of children who start smoking every year and curb the health inequalities this drives.”

Dr Hilary Emery, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau

Royal College of General Practitioners

“For many people, smoking is a childhood addiction – not an adult choice – which ends in ill health and, in some cases, early death. Impressionable young people are enticed by attractive product branding so we welcome the Government’s latest review of the evidence and look forward to the swift introduction of measures to put in place plain packaging of tobacco products. Without this change, children will continue to be exploited so that big tobacco companies can continue to turn around huge profits.”

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of RCGP Council

Royal College of Midwives

“We welcome the Government’s announcement to introduce enabling legislation on the standardised packaging of cigarettes and tobacco products. We very much want the Government to press ahead with this legislation and move ahead from the rhetoric of the legislation to making standardised packaging an everyday reality.”

“Adopting standardised packaging for cigarettes will, hopefully, put an end to the targeted advertising of smoking to young people, especially cases where cigarette packs have been designed to specifically appeal to vulnerable and easily influenced young girls.

“The Royal College of Midwives recognises the detrimental effects of smoking, especially when pregnant women have been unable to quit this highly-addictive habit.”

Professor Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives

Royal College of Nursing

“The RCN is pleased to see that the government appears to be moving in the right direction by commissioning an in depth review to properly consider the impact of introducing standard plain packaging for tobacco. Nursing staff see first-hand the devastating effects of smoking every day and the Government urgently needs to take action if it is to change the attitudes of the millions of people who continue to smoke despite the serious health risks. Standard packaging could have a real impact on preventing people from taking up this deadly habit.”

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing

Royal College of Physicians

“I am delighted that the government has agreed to review the evidence for the introduction of standard packs, taking into account the experience from Australia, which introduced standard packs nearly a year ago.

“In addition, I welcome the announcement that the government intends to amend the Children and Families Bill to allow for the introduction of standard packs in future. This is real progress and will help reduce children’s exposure to tobacco branding, making the marketing of tobacco products less effective.”

Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians

Royal College of Psychiatrists

“The Royal College of Psychiatrists is delighted by the government’s announcement. Smoking is the largest cause of health inequality in people with mental disorder. People with mental health problems consume almost half of all tobacco in England, and adolescents with conduct or emotional disorder are four to six times more likely to smoke. This contributes to many people with mental health problems dying significantly younger than the general population. Our College believes this legislation is an important step towards the implementation of standardised packaging, which we hope will help to stop the recruitment of the next generation of smokers.”

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Royal College of Radiologists

“Clinical oncologists see the health effects of smoking tobacco every day and so welcome moves towards standard packaging as an important step in reducing the appeal and impact of smoking as one of the most prolific yet preventable causes of cancer.”

Dr Giles Maskell MA FRCP FRCR, President of the Royal College of Radiologists

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

“I believe plain packaging will make smoking less appealing to young people and help prevent the next generation of lung cancer victims.

“I hope the government will introduce this legislation at the earliest opportunity to protect our children from the devastating effects of smoking.”

Paula Chadwick, Chief Executive Officer at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Smokefree South West

“We are delighted that the Government has given an independent body the task of looking at the evidence to support plain tobacco packaging, and that the review will be carried out quickly.

“Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable ill-health, health inequality and early deaths in our country. Two thirds of people start smoking when they’re children and a chief aim of introducing plain standardised packs is to make tobacco less attractive to young people.

“Our partners have worked hard to reduce the number of people who smoke and expert help and support is available for anyone who wants to quit. It’s the single, biggest thing you can do to improve your health.

“Standardised plain packaging will make a big difference, and we are pleased that we are now one step closer to making it happen.”

Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West

Trading Standards Institute

“The Trading Standards Institute attaches great importance to its contribution to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of consumers in the UK. We recognise that standardised packaging is a necessary step towards protecting the public from the harms of smoking and that it will be particularly effective for young people. We therefore urge the Government to bring forward legislative proposals for standard packs.”

Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute

UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies

“Tobacco companies use pack designs to appeal to consumers, distract attention from health warnings, promote low prices, reduce perceptions of risk, and create brand loyalty. All of these things are intended to help to sell cigarettes to new and existing smokers. I therefore welcome the government’s decision to reconsider its policy on standardised packaging, ad hope that this measure, which will save lives and prevent thousands of people from being trapped in a lifetime addiction to smoking, will now be implemented.”

John Britton, Director, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies