Updated: Monday, 21st January 2019 @ 4:25pm

'Dithering' over plain cigarette packaging costs NHS billions, says Manchester MP

'Dithering' over plain cigarette packaging costs NHS billions, says Manchester MP

| By Jack Howson

Government plans to have MPs vote on plain tobacco packaging in the UK are a 'step in the right direction', says Withington MP John Leech.

Mr Leech has previously expressed criticism of cigarette packaging legislation, slamming Labour and the Tories for being influenced by big businesses and trade unions.

According to research by the British Heart Foundation, 570 children in the UK try cigarettes for the first time every day but 36% of teenagers say they are deterred from smoking by standardised packaging.

The MP for the south Manchester constituency of Withington told MM: “I am pleased that the government has pledged to have a vote on this before the General Election.

"I have long called for standardised packaging on tobacco products and today’s announcement is a clear step in the right direction.

“It is time for the Government to stop dithering and bring in legislation which will encourage healthy lifestyles and save the NHS billions in the long run.”

In 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to require all tobacco products to be sold in plain, unbranded packaging. Smoking rates in the country subsequently dropped by 3.4% as a result of the marketing censorship.

Research into the success of Australia’s implementation of the new packaging style revealed that when young people view cigarette packs stripped of colours and logos, they believe the cigarettes are lower quality, will taste worse and are less appealing.

Current regulations in Australia require:

• No branding other than the product name in a standard font, size and colour

• Prohibition of all other trademarks, logos, colour schemes and graphics


With only the following information permitted:

• Standard shape, size and colour for the pack and contents

• Graphic health warnings covering 75% of the front and 90% of the back of packs

• Qualitative rather than quantitative information on constituents and emissions

• Tax stamps

• Quitline number and web address on all packs

• All packs to be a standard drab brown colour in matt finish

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the health charity Ash, said: “We won’t be taking anything for granted in the run-up to the final vote. If the regulations do become law this will be the most important public health reform of this parliament.”

Image courtesy of Jadeluxx, with thanks.