Evidence and information

Evidence and information



Why do we need standard packs?

Two-thirds of smokers start before they are 18 – beginning an addiction that will kill up to 2 in 3 long-term users. Tobacco use is the UK’s single greatest cause of preventable illness, with 100,000 people dying each year from smoking-related diseases, including cancer.

Cigarette packs are designed to be attractive and communicate the ‘personality’ of a brand.

Our evidence shows that removing branding from cigarette packaging will reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products to children. It closes an advertising opportunity tobacco companies exploit to market their deadly products.

An Executive from a large tobacco company said:
"Our final communication vehicle with our smokers is the pack itself. In the absence of any other marketing messages, our packaging is the sole communicator of our brand essence. Put another way: when you don’t have anything else, our packaging is our marketing."

Standard packs WILL protect children from a deadly addiction and save lives

In 2011, the Department of Health commissioned a systematic review of all the available evidence on the impact of standardised packaging. This evidence demonstrated that standard packs would reduce the appeal of tobacco products.

In March 2014, Sir Cyril Chantler reported from the Independent Review into standard packs, concluding “Having reviewed the evidence it is in my view highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco.”

Australia introduced standard packs in 2012 as part of their comprehensive approach to tobacco control and the results are encouraging:

  • Between 2010 and 2013, Australia saw a 15% reduction in smoking prevalence. Data also confirms that fewer young people are taking up the habit
  • Tobacco consumption in the first quarter of 2014 was the lowest ever recorded
  • There’s been a significant 5% drop in cigarettes sold per head of population in the first year since standard packs have been introduced

Standard packs will NOT make packs easier to forge or increase smuggling

International experts say standard packs will not increase the illicit trade – all the existing security features will still be in place on standard packs. The illicit cigarette market is declining - HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) report that it has more halved since a peak in 2000/01. HMRC have stated in their analysis that “Standardised packaging would not introduce any new risks to the UK illicit market.”

Standardised packaging is NOT illegal due to trademark rights

International treaties on Intellectual Property have opt-outs for public health. Standard packs do not break Intellectual Property law as trademarks aren’t being taken away from tobacco companies; they will only regulate how trademarks are used.

We will NOT lose tax if standard packs are brought in

Tobacco duties contribute £10bn to the Treasury every year, but the cost to society has been estimated to be well over £13bn. This includes costs to the NHS, lost productivity from smoking breaks, increased absenteeism and the lost economic output from people who die from smoking. No figure can be put on the cost in human suffering of people dying and losing relatives.

Standard packs will NOT affect local shops

The aim of the campaign is to reduce the number of young people who start smoking (adults will still be free to purchase cigarettes), which can lead to a gradual reduction in sales long-term, giving shops time to adjust. Research from Australia has shown that standard cigarette packs have also not caused sales staff any problems in serving customers, i.e. the time to identify and retrieve cigarettes has stayed the same. Peer-reviewed research suggests that standardised packs, stocked in alphabetical order, could actually speed up this retail selection process.


Thank you

On Wednesday 11 March, MPs voted in favour of standard cigarette packs by 367 to 113.  This is a huge victory for public health – and we couldn’t have done it without you.