Setting the Standard for plain cigarette packaging
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In March 2015, MPs voted in favour of plain, standard cigarette packs by 367 to 113, which will help prevent young people from taking up smoking and ultimately save lives. This was huge victory for public health – and a big step as we move towards our goal of a tobacco-free generation.
Why we campaigned
With other forms of advertising closed to them, tobacco companies have invested a fortune in innovative packaging, creating ‘mobile billboards’ that appeal to young people. Two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18, the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to 2 in 3 long-term smokers.
Our evidence shows that removing all branding and design from the packs makes cigarettes less attractive to both adults and children, increasing the prominence of health warnings on packs.
Plain, standardised packaging means all cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco packaging will look the same. They will be packaged in a standard shape without existing marketing and design features:
- Picture health warnings will remain
- Brand names will be in standard type face, colour and size
- The shape and colour of the packs – as well as the design of the actual cigarettes - 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
Standard packs are also wanted by the general public. 85% of all mothers and grandmothers with children under 18 years old believe children should not be exposed to any tobacco marketing (YouGov, 2013), and in January 2015 figures released by Cancer Research UK showed nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of voters across the political spectrum (Conservative,75%; Labour, 75%; Lib Dem, 80%; UKIP, 64%) support standard packs, with only 15 per cent opposed (YouGov, 2015).
How we made it happen
We launched the campaign in 2012 with a shocking video showing why we need to protect children from tobacco marketing.
Over the next three years, around 90,000 of our amazing supporters took action on this campaign – from signing petitions and emailing their MPs, to visiting Parliament. In total, over 200,000 people responded to the initial 2012 Government consultation in the UK.
The move also had the backing of a coalition of over 250 health and wellbeing organisations, the Chief Medical Officer and the World Health Organisation.
What we achieved
The legislation was also voted through by the House of Lords on Monday 16 March, so we expect to see standard packs on the shelves in May 2016.