Plain Cigarette Packet Debate Is Launched
A consultation on whether cigarettes should be sold in plain packets has been launched by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
The move will start a wider debate which could see all branding stripped from cigarette packets and larger health warnings added instead.
It will investigate whether people believe standardised packaging will have an impact on smoking rates, particularly among young people.
Under the changes, packets could be all the same colour and have a standard font and text for any writing.
Pro-smoking groups have described the plan as "a total farce", and fear it could boost the already sizeable black market for counterfeit or smuggled cigarettes.
But anti-smoking campaigners believe removing all flashy styling will make the habit less appealing, especially to teenagers.
Deborah Arnott from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) told Sky News: "Plain packs are less attractive to young people.
"They enhance the impact of the health warnings on the packs because there is no branding to fight it and they reduce the ability of the pack to be misleading because unfortunately smokers still think that light-coloured packs are less harmful than dark packs."
A survey for the anti-smoking group found that 62% of people back the idea of plain packets, with 11% against it.
Around ten million adults in Britain smoke, and two thirds started before they were 18.
It claims 100,000 lives in the UK every year and is the main cause of early death, according to the Government.
The treatment of smoking-related illnesses also costs the NHS billions of pounds each year.
Health warnings have already been added to packets, and cigarettes locked behind cabinets in supermarkets to try and cut the number of smokers.
The Tobacco Manufacturers Association has welcomed the debate about the latest government plans but it is defending its right to make brands stand out.
Jaine Chisholm Caunt, the secretary-general of the TMA, said: "There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will reduce rates of youth smoking.
"Smoking initiation in children is actually linked to a complex range of socio-economic factors including home life, peer pressure and truancy and exclusion from school.
"The focus for Government, and public health policy-makers, should rightly be on reducing youth smoking and therefore on preventing children's access to cigarettes, not on the appearance of the pack."
Mr Lansley said: "Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health. Each year it accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK and one in two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking disease.
"That is why the health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives that might encourage smokers to quit and stop young people not taking up smoking in the first place."
Australia is currently the only country to have agreed plain packaging.
Laws making packets a dull green with generic fonts and health warnings are due to come into force at the end of the year.
However, they have sparked a series of legal challenges by tobacco companies.
One High Court action this week is expected to hear claims that the branding ban is a violation of the Australian constitution because it will affect the value of the firms' intellectual property.
what do you think?
I think if nobody bought cigarettes for a month it would bring panick to this goverment because they would lose millions of pounds in vat revenue,and how would they get it back i know smoking is bad for you but without the tax the goverment makes from it this country would be on its belly not on its knees. IN 1975 A PACK OF TEN CIGARETTES COST 10p so how much do they make a year on v.a.t please let me know if you do thankyou
They panicked at the thought of revenues lost due to the fuel delivery strike, so will again if tobacco revenues drop.
Whatever the criticism of Governments, they do not raise revenue for it's own sake, but in order to fund Public Spending, for us, the taxpayers. Taxing cigarettes is just a convenient way of raising those revenues. If we all stopped smoking, and the revenue dissappeared, what do you think would happen. They'd either have to cut Public Spending dramatically, or they'd have to increase taxes on other things, Fuel, VAT, Income Tax...
the "Nanny State" strikes again! IF its that bad ban it (and loose the revenue! NOOOOOO) but remember the 'American Prohibition'! The main reason that a lot of people started smoking was because it was seen as the "in" thing - and who sponsored that, why the goverment of the time. what they forget is that it is a great soother to many who would have difficulty surviving the governments 'control' otherwise
The government dont want people to stop smoking. The amount they make from it far outweighs what they spend on the nhs treating the effects of it. They put on this front so they can try to justify the ridiculous amount of tax on them. Which is already at least twice as much as the next most expensive place in europe...
Glad to see someone knows the truth.
If the government were convinced of the peril of smoking then a ban would be an appropriate course of action. However, it would then be correct policy to ban all activities that cause peril! People should be allowed to make an informed choice about whether they want to smoke or not, based on fair and balanced information. We already have laws to protect non smokers from the effects of smoking in public places, which have been hugely beneficial to those of us who choose not to smoke. Are we going to see cheap beer in plain cans? Legislation may be required to protect others from our actions, however, we should be responsible for the impact of our own actions.
I don't care if they sell them loose in a paper bag - if people want to smoke, they will. I use a cigarette case anyway! I'd prefer the government to spend time and money tackling alcohol and drug abuse. Never heard of anyone being injured or killed by a smoking driver - or being mugged by a thug high on B&H....
Smokers will always find a way! Do they really think people will stop smoking if the fags dont come in fancy packets! Course not! A good point was made about cheap booze, good point, i dont smoke, never even tried it, however, the gov gets a lot of money from smokers, they are hypocrites! Of course they dont want people to stop! From my own point of view, im happy there are smoking bans in pubs shops cafes etc, always my only gripe, not wanting to breathe their smoke, so if people want to smoke....carry on! One gripe left......please dont empty car ashtrays in the kerbs, ugh!
Jukie, I'm a smoking pariah, but I fully agree with you on the emptying of ashtrays gripe. Also, if you do smoke you should carry a pocket ashtray and not litter your dogends around.
I agree strongly with Your comment julie , it's not about the coulor of the packet's in which cigaretts are contained but more the coulor of the money which they generate. All I would ask is that smoker's smoke responsibly. I would also suggest that if this Coalition of Public Scool Boys is genuinely concerned about the effect's on public health , then they need look no further than their own Economic Policies.
Well said tes!
I have NEVER heard anyone - young or otherwise - ask for a pack of cigarettes because they like the packaging! How absurd! (Oh, and I haven't paid full price for my cigarettes for well over ten years! So the VAT man hasn't had any revenue from me, ha ha!)
I think that this is Nanny State already! This will not stop people smoking, it will, however aid the smugglers! they don't care how old their customers are. At least in a retail outlet they have to be 18. The additional pressure this coverment keeps putting on a "small business" i.e. cigarettes behind shutters, soon. Will only add to closures.
What a stupid idea!!. I am sick and tired of this hoary old chestnut about "smoking costing the NHS billions a year". The tax on tobacco is currently worth around £11 billion a year so smokers more than pay their way regarding the NHS Besides, if you are going to apply that argument, how much do sports injuries cost the NHS per year??, or how much do motoring injuries cost??. We could make all football teams play in the same colour shirts and all cars could be the same design and colour. In fact, why not ban cars and sports altogether, that should save the NHS a few bob!!. By the way, I am a non smoker.................
But if smoking was eliminated, people would have more money to spend. This would pay for the increased cost of other goods, for which taxes would have to rise to replace the lost revenue, but the cost of the NHS would reduce because ex-smokers health would improve significantly.
So Niel. People who don't at present smoke would have to pay extra on other goods to make up for the loss of taxation on cigarettes. Only (ex) smokers would benefit. Not too well thought out!
I would like to know why my mp insists I give up smoking when he has not consulted me. Just who does he think he is. For sure, I will not be voting for him again. It appears we now live in a police state. I have spoken to at least 100 people and none of them voted for this 'stop smoking' brigade. I will now only vote for independants whatever they represent.
We all know that smoking is a killer, and that it offends people around the smoker, so just keep away from these "sad" people who choose to smoke. Peter. Holmfirth.
I think it's only fair. Aftrer all cocaine, heroine and marijuana are sold in plain wrappers aren't they? Equality for all.
heh heh I don't care,I quit 35 weeks ago, says he smugly!
I've just read burgers are to be sold in plain wraps. This is to confuse the purchaser that if they eat eight a day they won't get fat. Very clever.
It is a barmy idea as this will do nothing to deter smoking. I gave up some 10 years ago and as strange as it seems I was a heavy smoker for many years. I was frightened out of it by the hospitals and I just threw my cigarettes in the bin and never touched smoking since. The moral is when you see others in hospital who have throat cancer, archeries replaced and removed all due to smoking then you realise how dangerous it is. People should have the right to choose if they smoke or not. It should not be forced upon them.
Well done Christopher but I bet that when you were smoking the colour of the packet didn't make any difference
Whatever happened to freedom of choice. If the goverment are so worried then make smoking illegal, oh I forgot, they make millions in tax from it. First they put up beer then smoking oh and taxed the hot pies and pasties. Its no fun being a hard working class person now. 3 little things that is the working class staple. I will continue to smoke and drink and eat hot pies but the condems won't get my vote.
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I dont beleive pretty packets sell cigarettes to kids or anyone else. Nobody wraps up drugs in pretty packets to sell.... but they do I do believe Britian is fast becoming more stupid and a nanny state. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley should be replaced for his silly ideas on tackling problems. Get a grip man, you're drawing a salary for nothing