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Lords give green light to standardised cigarette packs

Standardised tobacco packaging will be introduced from 20th May 2016

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The House of Lords has joined the House of Commons in voting for the standardised packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The regulations under the Children and Families Act were passed without a division and follow the vote in the House of Commons last week where MPs voted overwhelming to introduce standardised tobacco packaging in the UK (367 MPs in favour just 113 against).

Standardised packaging will mean that every packet of cigarettes will look the same, except for the make and brand name, with graphic photos accompanying health warnings. The packaging will be introduced at the same time as the EU Tobacco Products Directive measures on packaging and labelling, increasing the size of the health warnings to 65% of the pack and putting picture warnings on the front of all packs, on 20th May 2016.

It is hoped that standardised packaging will help protect the next generation of children and young people from starting to smoke. Two thirds of current smokers started when children, and half all lifetime smokers will die from smoking-related disease. 

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH said: "This is a decisive moment in the long and patient struggle to reduce, and then end, the horrors that the tobacco industry has brought to our country and to the rest of the world. Today we should remember the millions of people who have died too young from diseases caused by smoking, and the families and friends they left behind. And we should resolve for good and all that this misery must not be inherited by our children."

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This clampdown on tobacco packaging means that today’s children have a much better chance of not smoking.

“Cigarette packs that are plastered in colourful, eye-catching advertising will soon be condemned to history and completely unrecognisable to the next generation of children.”

The UK joins Australia and the Republic of Ireland in introducing standardised packaging. Australia introduced the policy in 2012 and Ireland recently voted to implement it.

Research has shown that in Australia standardised packaging has made tobacco products less attractive to smokers and ex-smokers, and made health warnings on packaging more noticeable.

Smoking rates in Australia plummeted to a record new low between 2010 and 2013. Now just 13% of people aged over 14 are daily smokers.

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