Government urged to pack it in to protect children from tobacco marketing

Cancer Research UK

Nearly two thirds (63%) of people in the UK back a move to get rid of colourful and slickly designed cigarette packets according to a survey of more than 2000 adults commissioned by Cancer Research UK.

The survey results* are published today (Friday) ahead of Australia’s historic step on Saturday when it becomes the first country in the world to put all tobacco products in standardised packs.

Removing all branding and making all packaging a uniform size, shape and design – leaving only pictures depicting tobacco-induced disease - is under consideration by the government. Health groups are backing the measure as a way to reduce the appeal of cigarettes to children.

Public support is overwhelming on the general issue of reducing the number of young people who start smoking, with 85 per cent of people backing government action to achieve this.

Parents of children aged four and younger were more likely than adults without children to support the government in taking this action – 93 per cent vs 81 per cent.

Every year around 157,000 children aged 11-15 start smoking – that’s enough to fill 5,200 classrooms or make up nearly 14,000 junior football teams. Preventing young people from being tempted to try smoking is vital as eight out of ten adult smokers start before they turn 19.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “These results highlight the huge level of public support for standardised packaging, along with the backing for efforts to bring down smoking rates.

“It’s important to remember the scale of harm caused by tobacco. It’s the single biggest preventable cause of death from cancer - causing more than a quarter of all cancer deaths and killing around six and a half million people in the UK over the last 50 years from cancer and other tobacco related diseases. With so many children starting to smoke each year, the Government must show strong leadership to reduce the deadly lure of cigarettes.

“Smoking causes at least 14 different cancers as well as a long list of other illnesses. So it’s vital the government introduces standardised packaging as soon as possible, giving millions of children one less reason to start smoking.”

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

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* Figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2064 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th - 19th November 2012.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Question: The government is considering whether to try to protect children from tobacco marketing by removing all branding from cigarette packets. This would mean all packets would look the same. There would be no colours or distinctive logos – only the name of the brand. These would all be printed in the same size and style of lettering, all packets would be the same size, and still carry prominent health warnings. The images below show how these cigarette packets would appear from the front and back.

To what extent, if at all, do you support or oppose this proposed plan for plain packaging?

Strongly support                      40%
Tend to support                       23%
Neither support nor oppose    19%
Tend to oppose                       9%
Strongly oppose                      7%
Don’t know                              3%

Question: How supportive, if at all, are you of the government taking action to try and reduce the number of young people (i.e. those under the age of 18) who start smoking?            

Very supportive             59%
Fairly supportive           26%
Not very supportive       6%
Not at all supportive      3%
Don’t know                    6%