Tobacco packs changed forever as the UK introduces plain packaging laws

Cancer Research UK

Tomorrow (Friday) marks the beginning of the end for brightly coloured and slickly designed tobacco packaging in the UK as legislation takes effect to phase out current packaging.

“This is an important milestone in our efforts to reduce the devastating toll that tobacco exerts on so many families every day. It’s the beginning of the end for packaging that masks a deadly and addictive product." - Sir Harpal Kumar

All tobacco products must now be produced in plain, standardised packs with large picture health warnings. Shops and retailers have 12 months to sell existing packets.

The United Kingdom and France today join Australia as the first countries in the world to introduce similar laws. Australia’s legislation took effect in December 2012.

Plain standardised packaging means all cigarette and hand-rolled tobacco packaging will look the same.

They will be packaged in a standard shape without branding, design or a logo:

  • Picture health warnings will cover 65 per cent of the front and back of packs
  • Health warnings will appear at the top and side of packs
  • Brand names will be in standard type face, colour and size
  • The shape, colour and method of opening the packet will be standardised
  • The ‘duty paid’ stamp will remain with covert markings that show the pack is not counterfeit
  • Cigarette packs will also be standardised in size and colour
  • Minimum packs sizes of 20 cigarettes and 30 grams for hand rolled tobacco

Cancer Research UK began campaigning for plain, standardised packaging in April 2012 and more than 90,000 people from across the UK took action to support the campaign.

More than 100,000 people die in the UK every year from a tobacco related illness, with 14 types of cancer caused by smoking. Two thirds of long term smokers die from a tobacco related disease.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “This is an important milestone in our efforts to reduce the devastating toll that tobacco exerts on so many families every day. It’s the beginning of the end for packaging that masks a deadly and addictive product. It’s taken many years to get to this point and it reflects a huge effort aimed at protecting children from tobacco marketing. Two thirds of regular smokers start before they turn 18, so it is vital that the UK introduced measures like this. Australia’s experience has shown that standard packaging help reduce youth smoking rates. We look forward to a tobacco free generation which won’t be scarred by this lethal addiction.”

Henrietta Corcoran, 38 and mother of two boys from Sussex, said: “This is an incredibly important day. It begins the countdown to the end of the wildly colourful cigarette packs on sale in the UK. My mum died in 2011 from lung cancer. She was a lifelong smoker and an addict for as long as I can remember. She’d got hooked in her teens and was never able to break the addiction. She’d tried several times but the draw was just too strong. Smoking ruled her with an iron hold. These new packs will give my boys and all UK children one less reason to start smoking. My boys might not have gotten to know their grandmother, but now I hope they will never know the devastation caused by tobacco.”

ENDS

For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

Plain packaging was implemented in Australia in December 2012. The United Kingdom and France have also now adopted the measure with legislation taking effect on 20 May, 2016. Standardised packaging laws have been passed by the Republic of Ireland. Standard packs are also being considered by the following countries: New Zealand, Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, Bulgaria and Canada.

http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_960.pdf

Read more about Cancer Research UK’s “Setting the Standard” campaign here: www.cruk.org/standard-packs