Campaign news

3 July 14: Record-breaking day of action

Yesterday, we celebrated a CR-UK first: over 100 of our Campaigns Ambassadors journeyed to Westminster to take part in our largest ever Parliament Day. Months of preparation culminated in a record-breaking day of political action as our Ambassadors had personal meetings with over 70 MPs. These centred on our policy priorities of improving early diagnosis and access to the best, innovative and evidence-based treatments. Our Ambassadors also definitely captured attention - descending upon Parliament Square, holding ballot signs and posing in a voting queue to emphasise the important role that parliamentary support plays in accelerating CR-UK’s progress.  Chief Executive Dr Harpal Kumar paid tribute to the Ambassadors’ incredible work, presenting five especially committed volunteers with ‘Flame of Hope’ awards and special commendations. Overall, the day served as a significant step in soft-launching our General Election campaign and will ensure that our policy calls continue to be at the forefront of Parliament’s agenda. To check out more from the day see our live blog. You can also sign up for updates and ways to get involved in our General Election campaign.

7 April 14: Government announces plans to move ahead with standard packs

Great news! On 3 April 2014, Minister for Health Jane Ellison MP set out the Government’s intention to bring in standard cigarette packs. This move follows an independent review by Sir Cyril Chantler, which agreed that standard packs would have a positive impact on public health, especially for children and young adults.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far over the past two years – it is a significant step towards a healthier future for the UK’s children. But we’re not there yet – the Government needs to make its final decision and move quickly if standard packs are to be achieved within this parliament. Please take a couple of minutes to send an email to your MP asking them to put pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to go ahead.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “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.”

You can read more about this Government announcement in our blog.

11 February 14: MPs vote 'yes' to standard packs

Excellent news! Last night MPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of standard cigarette packs with a huge majority of 453 to 24, as part of the Children and Families Bill. This decision clears the way for Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to introduce standard cigarette packs.

We now look to the independent review of public health evidence for standard packs, lead by Sir Cyril Chantler, which is due to report in March. If the Government decides to press ahead after considering the review’s outcome and all the available evidence, they will then begin the process of drawing up the necessary regulations to make standard packs a reality. This process could take about six months. 

In the meantime our campaign continues and we will need your help to urge the Secretary of State for Health to bring in these regulations without delay. So check back here soon for our next campaign action!

MPs also voted last night to end smoking in cars with children present, passing an amendment to the same Bill with a majority of 376 to 107.

These votes demonstrate clear parliamentary support to protect children from the harms of tobacco, giving a clear signal to the tobacco industry that the UK is putting the health of children above their profits.

28 November 13: Victory for public health

Great news – the Government has listened to us! Today, it announced  it will pave the way for new laws on standard packs, starting with an independent review.

This review, led by Sir Cyril Chantler, will look at the public health evidence on standardised packaging, especially for children. If the Review confirms what we already know – that standard packs will have a positive effect on public health – then regulations will be drafted to allow the introduction of standard packs. To make this easier, the Government is also introducing some laws, so they can act quickly after the review if needed.

The report is expected by March 2014, which potentially means we could see standard packs introduced before the General Election in 2015.

This announcement follows our campaign over the last few years to call for standard packs including the launch of our shocking new campaign film two weeks ago showing how tobacco companies can go as far as local laws allow to recruit young people as smokers.

Read our blog to find out more.

15 November 13: Radiotherapy campaign wins award

Great news! On Tuesday, our Voice for Radiotherapy campaign won the best in-house Public Affairs category, at the PRCA (Public Relations Consultants Association) awards.

The PRCA is Europe’s largest PR association and its annual awards recognise industry teams and campaigns that have delivered real results.

Aside from achieving key campaign outcomes such as millions of pounds of Government investment in radiotherapy services, we were recognised for our professionalism and innovation in our campaign tactics. We couldn’t have won this award without the hard work and dedication of our Ambassadors and online campaigners, so thank you.

9 October 13: Progress made in Europe

Yesterday, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted on the Tobacco Products Directive. Thank you if you were one of the thousands of supporters who emailed their MEPs before the vote – as a result, a number of tobacco control priorities were secured, including:

  • Picture warnings will have to cover 65% of the pack
  • Perfume and lipstick-shaped packaging will disappear 
  • Packs sold in tens will be discontinued
  • Flavours like chocolate and strawberry will be stopped three years after the directive becomes law, and menthol cigarettes after eight years
  • Tougher measures to control the flow of illegal tobacco
  • Some controls over e-cigarettes, including restrictions around age and advertising. 

However, we were disappointed that slim cigarettes will stay, as we know these are seen as glamorous by young women.

Overall, we are making progress in the right direction, but the law is not yet finalised – now there will be negotiations between the European Parliament and the national governments of the 28 EU member states. Individual countries can also decide to pass more stringent measures to tighten up tobacco control if they want to, so we will continue to campaign for the UK Government to go further and introduce plain, standard cigarette packs.

3 October 13: Party Conferences 2013

Over the past three weeks, we’ve been at the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative party conferences, asking party members and delegates to end the #packetracket and bring in standard cigarette packs.

We handed out over 3,000 leaflets and 800 stickers, and spoke to people about why standard packs will protect children from tobacco marketing – including Vince Cable MP, Andy Burnham MP and Andrew Lansley MP. By engaging with so many delegates, we managed to spread the positive messaging around standard cigarette packs as well as bust any myths the tobacco industry have been spreading!

At the Labour and Conservative conferences, Cancer Research UK also had a stand inside the secure zone where MPs could pick up their local cancer stats (for tobacco and early diagnosis) and play with a prototype of our new smart-phone game. Over 100 parliamentarians visited the stands to hear about our work on early diagnosis, standard cigarette packs and cancer treatments. We even had a visit from Prime Minister, David Cameron!

A big thank you to all the Ambassadors who came along to help us out on the day – and all our online cancer campaigners who emailed their MP and asked them to visit the stand.

16 September 13: Ambassadors at the Liberal Democrat party conferences

Over the past few days, Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors have braved the rain to help spread the word about standard cigarette packs at the Liberal Democrat party conference. Armed with leaflets and sandwich-board outfits that look like standard packs, the team has been speaking to key Liberal Democrat MPs, Peers and party members, such as Vince Cable, Paul Burstow and Charles Kennedy (as pictured) – persuading them to support standard cigarette packs.

You can keep up to date with our activities at party conferences through #packetracket on Twitter.

3 September 13: Scotland reaffirms support for standard packs

The Scottish Government reaffirmed its support for standard cigarette packs by announcing plans to bring in new laws for standardised packaging of tobacco products in 2014-15.

Whilst it is great news that the Government plans to move forward with new laws to protect children from tobacco marketing, 20,000 children start smoking every year in Scotland.

Until these laws are brought in, children will continue to be exposed to glitzy packs designed to lure them into a deadly addiction. It is vital that the Government now firmly sticks to its 2014-15 timetable in order to secure these life-saving new laws in time before the 2016 election.

If you live in Scotland, you can email your MSPs to let them know you will hold the Scottish Government to its commitment

27 August 13: Week of action to make tobacco marketing history

This week we’re encouraging our supporters across the country to make as much noise as possible about standard cigarette packs.

Every day, nearly 570 children start smoking in the UK – that’s the equivalent of 6,900 classrooms of kids starting an addiction that kills 1 in 2 of its long-term users.

As kids head back to school, the Prime Minister is going back to Parliament. We need to make sure he puts standard cigarette packs on the Westminster timetable.

So how can you help?

  • Email David Cameron and ask him to let Parliament decide about standard packs
  • Sign up to our ‘Thunderclap’ and allow a timed tweet or facebook post to be sent at 8am on Friday 30 August. The more people who sign up, the bigger explosion of noise it will create.
  • Send us a picture to add to our online gallery of you holding up a sign saying ‘Make tobacco marketing history’. Or write your own, showing why you support our campaign for standard cigarette packs. Please send any pictures to
  • Tweet your MP the following message ‘it’s a new school term: make sure our kids have a future free from slick tobacco marketing tactics #packetracket’. You can find out your MP’s Twitter handle here:

12 July 13: Government surrenders to tobacco industry

Today the Government announced that it will delay bringing in standard cigarette packs, until it sees more evidence about the impact of standardised packaging in practice in Australia. They have failed to prioritise the health of our children over tobacco industry profits.

It is hugely disappointing that the Government hasn’t listened to us. It flies in the face of the solid evidence that shows standard packs are needed, and the overwhelming amount of public and health community support for them to make the move.

Make no mistake; lives will be lost as a result of this poor choice. For every day that the Government does nothing, another 567 children will become smokers. Children will continue to be exposed to the slick tobacco marketing that helps lure them into a life-long and, often deadly, addiction.

But our fight is not over and we need to continue to put the pressure on the Government to make the right decision, sooner. You can help us by sending an email to the Prime Minister, David Cameron - he needs to let MPs decide what should happen, without further delay.

You can read more about this in our blog and press release.


11 July 2013: Radiotherapy Innovation Fund benefits 5,800 patients

A new evaluation report published today shows the delivery of advanced radiotherapy in England over the last 6 months has increased from 14% to 22%. This means 5,800 patients are now benefitting from this more targeted and effective type of radiotherapy.

This boost is as a result of £23m investment (the Radiotherapy Innovation Fund), which Cancer Campaigners helped to secure by petitioning the Government through our Voice for Radiotherapy campaign in 2011. The extra money helped buy specialist equipment and train staff to deliver advanced radiotherapy services.

But our work doesn’t stop here! We still need to ensure investment is sustained to keep up with demand – so other patients get access to the radiotherapy services they need, and that there’s enough money to replace machines as they get older.

Read more about this good news on the Science blog.


2 July 13: Ambassadors take early diagnosis to Westminster

Three of our fantastic Campaigns Ambassadors, Caroline King, Don Paterson and Tony Selman, joined us at our summer reception in Westminster. Helping us increase Parliamentarians’ understanding of the importance of early diagnosis.

The event launched local early diagnosis cancer profiles, giving MPs the local statistics needed to ask the right questions of their local NHS and public health structures.

The reception was hosted by Steve Brine MP, Joint Chair of the Breast Cancer APPG. One of the highlights was hearing a moving personal testimony from Caroline, cancer survivor and now campaigner with us. Through her story, Caroline explained why catching cancer early is vital to improve the best chances of treatment and survival.

Our thanks go to Caroline, Don and Tony, who did a superb job by sharing their stories to help the calls on early diagnosis really land with MPs.

To see and compare the cancer statistics for your local area, simply head to our Local Cancer Statistics website.


31 May 13: Ambassador recognised at Flame of Hope

Rosa Macpherson, Cancer Campaigns Ambassador for Ochil and South Perthshire, has been recognised in Cancer Research UK’s Flame of Hope volunteer awards 2013.

Rosa has been awarded with a special commendation in the hotly-contested ‘Ambassador of the Year’ category.

Rosa goes the extra mile in her campaigning activity, and as an ex-smoker and cancer survivor, her story inspires others to take action, and showcases the importance of our research to both MPs and the public. She’s also now involved in supporting the charity through fundraising in her local area.

These prestigious awards are now in their 11th year, and are an opportunity for the charity to celebrate and recognise the outstanding achievements of our volunteers and fundraisers.

Andy Millin, a fellow Cancer Campaigns Ambassador, also won a joint award for ‘Event Volunteer of the Year’.

Thank you to Rosa, and the rest of our Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors!


29 May 13: Ireland to adopt standardised tobacco packaging

Great news from the Republic of Ireland as they plan to bring in standardised tobacco packaging legislation early next year, according to health minister, Dr James Reilly.

Following Australia's lead they could become the second country in the world to remove branding from cigarette packaging.

Let’s hope the UK follows their lead! Email the Prime Minister and ask him to support standardised packaging.


13 May 2013: Ambassador Training Summit

Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors travelled from across the UK to our training summit in London. The two-day event aimed to up-skill and inspire Ambassadors to become more effective campaigners in their local areas.

Day one of the summit saw 17 of our most experienced Ambassadors receive radio training from real-life radio broadcasters, to make them confident spokespeople for our campaign for plain, standard cigarette packs. They also received training from one of Cancer Research UK’s Learning and Development specialists on mentoring and coaching their peers.
Day two offered bespoke interactive workshops to 53 Ambassadors, including presenting with confidence, lobbying MPs with impact, ‘Talk Cancer’ and writing persuasive campaign letters. The Ambassadors were also fortunate to be joined by Ann Keen, former MP and minister for cancer services, who gave a fascinating insight into the world of MPs and gave some useful tips on campaigning locally.

A particular highlight of the event was the privilege of filming and photographing Ambassadors as they told their powerful stories about why they volunteer their time to advocate for our campaigns.

All in all, a fun and inspiring two days!


29 April 2013: Tobacco displays covered-up in Scotland

More great news from Scotland – tobacco products are no longer allowed to be on display in larger retailers.

This decision, which also sees the removal of vending machines, was passed into law in 2010 but has been under legal challenge from the tobacco industry. They have now been defeated, and Scotland has followed in the steps of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to bring the covering-up of tobacco displays forward.

This move will help prevent young people across Scotland from starting to smoke.


27 March 2013: Scotland supports standardised packaging

Great news, as part of its Tobacco Control Strategy the Scottish Government has announced it supports the introduction of plain, standardised packaging.

Other actions from the Strategy include:

  • Setting 2034 as a target for a tobacco-free Scotland
  • Investing in education programmes for young people
  • Implementing smoke-free hospital grounds by 2015
  • Delivering a national marketing campaign on the danger of second-hand smoke
  • Setting a target for reducing children’s exposure to second hand smoke

However, they’re going to wait for the UK Government’s response to the UK-wide consultation on standardised packaging before deciding how they’re going to legislate. Therefore, it’s essential we continue to put pressure on our MPs to support standard packs. Email the Prime Minister today.

Become a Cancer Campaigns Ambassador

Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors

Join our Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors programme and use your passion for beating cancer to help us make a real difference.

Request an application form