Chantler review paves way for standardised tobacco packs

In collaboration with the Press Association

Plain, standardised tobacco packaging could be introduced by the next general election, following the release of an independent review from Sir Cyril Chantler.

“Children find the brightly coloured and slick designs of today’s packs appealing. Standardised packaging will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.” - Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK

Draft regulations to introduce standard packs are to be published following a short consultation on the measure, public health minister Jane Ellison told the Commons today.

The Chantler Review made a "compelling case" that standardised packaging is likely to have health benefits for children, Ms Ellison said.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The Chantler Review has backed a significant step towards a healthier future for the UK’s children. We’re very pleased the Government will now move forward and lay out draft regulations on standardised packs.

“This should happen as quickly as possible. We have the evidence and the overwhelming support of parliament, the health community and the public. No more time should be wasted.”

Tasked with examining the evidence for and against the measure, Sir Cyril gave particular focus to the potential impact of plain packaging on the health of children, Ms Ellison said.

“Around 600 children start smoking in the UK every day,” she added.

And the review highlights “If this rate of smoking by children was reduced even by two per cent, for example, it would mean that 4,000 fewer children take up smoking each year,” she said.

Sir Cyril travelled to Australia during the review where plain packaging is already in place.

The Review dismissed tobacco industry arguments that standard packaging would result in a rise in the illegal tobacco market.

Sir Cyril wrote: “I am not convinced by the tobacco industry’s argument that standardised packaging would increase the illicit market, especially in counterfeit cigarettes. There is no evidence that standardised packaging is easier to counterfeit, and indeed in Australia, hardly any counterfeit standardised packages have been found to date.”

CEO of Cancer Council Australia and medical oncologist, Professor Ian Olver, said the UK Government’s announcement that the case for standardised packaging was “compelling” and the soon-to-be-tabled draft regulations are a victory for evidence over scaremongering.

“The only credible, independent research on the effects of plain packaging in Australia shows it is doing what 20 years’ worth of analysis suggested it would achieve – making smoking far less appealing to young people,” Professor Olver added.

Cancer Research UK chief executive, Harpal Kumar, said: “Every day hundreds of children are lured into smoking - an addiction that kills and causes at least 14 different types of cancer.

“Children find the brightly coloured and slick designs of today’s packs appealing. Replacing these packs with standardised packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco. Standardised packaging will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.”

Copyright Press Association 2014