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Pack To Basics on World No Tobacco Day

Thursday, 31 May 2012  at 10:36



Now is a great time to join over 60,000 people who have already shown their support for the Plain Packs Protect campaign on World No Tobacco Day, Thursday 31 May 2012.

Every year, another 340,000 children in the UK are tempted in some shape or form to try smoking. Research shows that they are more likely to be lured by the designed tobacco packs, than by plain packs.

Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West said:

‘World No Tobacco Day is a chance for people across the globe to come together to counter the damage tobacco does to families everywhere. This year we are focusing on closing the loop on the last legally allowed form of tobacco advertising here in the UK – glamorous and glitzy packaging.

‘Expensively designed packs are used to entice the next generation of smokers. The overwhelming response we have seen from across the UK shows that people agree that plain packs could be a vital step in protecting our children from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco.

‘The Government is holding a public consultation until July 10th. If you haven’t responded yet you can still have your voice heard here.’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has selected ‘tobacco industry interference’ as the theme of World No Tobacco Day. It focuses on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry's attempts to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) because of the serious danger they pose to public health.

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless we act, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low- and middle-income countries.

50,000 Support Plain Packs Campaign

Tuesday, 22 May 2012  at 13:59



Thousands join the fight to protect children

Over 50,000 people have joined the Plain Packs Protect campaign showing the strength of support to put an end to glamorous, highly designed tobacco packaging, which evidence shows are attractive to children and young people.

Most parents, including parents who smoke, don’t want their kids to start yet over two thirds of smokers start when they are under 18. Studies show that teenagers are highly aware of cigarette brands and glossy packaging. The World Health Organisation and local health bodies, think the answer is to simply move tobacco into plain, standardised packets.

Every year, another 340,000 children in the UK are tempted in some shape or form to try smoking. Research shows that they are more likely to be lured by the designed tobacco packs, than by plain packs.

Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West said:

‘The sheer number of people who are joining the campaign to say that they believe that plain packs will protect children is hugely encouraging. 50,000 people is a fantastic number and I’d like to thank the residents of the South West for continuing to play their part. 

‘The Royal Colleges of Midwives, Nursing and Physicians all support us as do major charities such as British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

‘We must remember that the numbers are huge. Smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised, plain packaging is designed to protect them. For example, from a very early age children build relationships with branded breakfast cereals, not from advertising exposure but from their interaction with packaging at breakfast and snack times.

‘The Government is holding a public consultation until July 10th. If you haven’t responded yet you can still have your voice heard here in this vital issue for the health of future generations.’

A YouGov poll commissioned by ASH in 2010 found that two thirds of the UK public would support plain packaging if there was evidence that plain packaging was less likely to give the false impression that one type of cigarette is safer than another.

Three quarters of respondents said they would support plain packaging if it made health warnings more effective, and 8 out of 10 people would support it if they were found to be less attractive to children and young people than branded packs.  

The Plain Packs debate - in the public eye

Monday, 21 May 2012  at 12:40


The Government has officially started a public consultation on whether the UK should follow in Australia’s footsteps by adopting plain packaging and Thursday, May 10th saw an open debate held at Bristol University’s Student Union.

Supporting the move towards Plain Packaging were Stephen Williams, MP Chair of the All Parliamentary Committee on Smoking and Health, and Dr Gabriel Scally, former Regional Director of Public Health for the South West. And arguing to keep designed tobacco packs were Simon Clark, Director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, and Chris Snowdon, historian, blogger and author of a recent booklet on plain packaging (published by the Adam Smith Institute).  

Key Issues
The main arguments in favour of plain packs underlined strongly that smoking related illnesses are one of the biggest health issues facing us, and that smoking is a childhood epidemic. The packs themselves were also shown to illustrate how they are used as a marketing and advertising tool.

The opposing argument suggested that the campaign was not needed and plain packs would not work.  The suggestion that plain packaging would be detrimental to small businesses sat strangely alongside the claim that plain packaging would have no impact whatsoever on smoking rates!

As the debate developed, it became apparent that majority of the support was for plain packaging and that the arguments against were not so compelling.

Overall, the debate was a huge success for all those interested in the Plain Packs Protect campaign, as it brought to light the core reasons why this is such an important issue. There was no hiding from the facts that plain packaging could help stop children smoking - and it was clear to see for everyone who attended.

To hear more about the plain packaging debate please visit

Royal College of Nursing backs Plain Packs Protect

Wednesday, 9 May 2012  at 15:44



We are delighted that the Royal College of Nursing has given its full backing to the Plain Packs Protect campaign:

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom (RCN) said:

“Every day nurses see the serious health consequences of tobacco, and the RCN has consistently campaigned for initiatives to reduce the number of people who smoke. However, smoking remains the major cause of premature death and disease killing over 100,000 people each year.

“Crucially, we now need more robust ideas to stop young people smoking in the first place, such as clamping down on the use of tobacco packaging as advertisingThis is why we support the campaign for plain standardised packaging.”

Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West said:

“This high profile endorsement by the RCN is yet more evidence that health professionals across the UK see the plain packaging of tobacco products as a significant step in preventing our children from a lifetime of addiction. We are delighted that such a prestigious organisation has joined us to help raise awareness of the need to close the loop on the last legally allowed form of tobacco advertising. 

“340,000 children try smoking each year in the UK and we must remember that smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised, plain packaging is designed to protect them. To date 42,000 people give their backing at www.plainpacksprotect.co.uk and Smokefree South West and the RCN encourage people to visit the site to see the facts and support plain packs.”

Consultation launch comments

  at 14:30


The launch of the consultation on the packaging of tobacco products has seen a wide variety of people and organisations voice their support and opinion. Below collated are just some of them:

Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary said: "Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health.
"Each year it accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK and one in two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking disease.
"That is why the health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives that might encourage smokers to quit and stop young people taking up smoking in the first place.
"Through the forthcoming consultation we want to hear as many views as possible about whether tobacco packing should remain unchanged, plain packaging should be adopted or a different option should be considered."
Mr Lansley said the tobacco companies used certain colours to trigger memories and their brands constituted a type of advertising.
"We don't want to work in partnership with the tobacco companies because we are trying to arrive at a point where they have no business in this country," he added.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Now the consultation on tobacco packaging has been launched, we welcome the opportunity for our supporters and researchers to show their support for reducing the appeal of cigarettes.
"Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous product so any action that helps reduce smoking rates is vital. Research shows children are drawn to brands with appealing packaging. The cigarette pack is simply a seductive marketing tool that attracts young people into a habit that kills half of all long term smokers. Put simply this silent salesman promises pleasure but delivers death.
"Our latest figures show that lung cancer rates are continuing to rise in women - a devastating legacy from smoking habits decades ago. Cancer Research UK urges everyone to make their voices heard and sign up to our campaign to bring in plain packaging for tobacco products. Preventing children from starting is vital, and while plain packs won't stop everyone from starting, they will give millions of children one less reason to start."

Ash chief executive Deborah Arnott said there was ample evidence that plain packs were less attractive to young people and also helped highlight the statutory health warnings.
"The argument used by 'big tobacco' and its supporters that this would lead to an increase in smuggling is laughable," she said.
"It's already so easy to copy packaging that it's only through covert markings that enforcement officers can tell the difference between authentic and counterfeit cigarette packs.
"We need to make smoking history for our children and getting rid of the glitzy packaging is the essential next step if we are to succeed."

Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group Chair Dr Forbes Watson said “We are asking as many people as possible to take a few moments to look at the Plain Packs Protect website, find out more about how packaging attracts new smokers and how ridding the shelves of these packs could help protect generations to come. We are fortunate that across Dorset we have a lower than average percentage of smokers, however there are still too many people dying in the county each year as a direct result of their habit; and we welcome any moves to help protect people from the effects of smoking and to de-normalise the habit”.

Oliver Letwin MP for West Dorset: “We all know that smoking damages heath – and it is obviously extremely important to make sure that young people are not led into smoking by attractive packaging.”

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive, ASH Scotland “We need plain packaging because two thirds of smokers start before they are 18 and the vast majority while still teenagers. Every day roughly 40 young Scots become smokers.”

Academics from the University’s Stirling Management School have conducted a systematic review of plain tobacco packaging which has led to the UK government’s consultation on whether tobacco should be sold in standardised or plain packaging.
The study team included Professor Gerard Hastings and Professor Linda Bauld, both of whom are members of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies. The review of evidence focusses on whether cigarettes should be sold in plain packs to reduce the attractiveness of the brand packaging and make the health warnings more clear.
Professor Hastings said: “Just over three dozen studies were identified and these show that plain packaging can help smokers in three ways: by increasing the prominence and effectiveness of health warnings; by making the pack, and thereby smoking, less appealing and removing the confusion about relative harm which pack design can cause.”
Professor Bauld added: “This systematic review forms the basis for the UK wide consultation on whether plain packaging should be introduced.  The studies we identified and describe in the review were remarkably consistent in their findings and clearly set out what effect plain packaging could have.
“The public consultation will take place from April to July and will help the government to decide whether the UK will follow Australia’s lead, where plain packaging will be introduced by 2013. I’d encourage people to have a look at the evidence set out in our review, make up their own minds about the issue and respond to the consultation.”

Elizabeth Shassere, Director of Public Health for Barnsley said: “I welcome this important consultation. Every year 300,000 people try smoking for the first time and around 200,000 become regular smokers.  Children are more likely to be attracted to the colourful glitzy packaging that gives misleading messages to youth and adult smokers. If we are to halt the smoking epidemic robust measures are necessary and putting tobacco in plain packaging will go a long way towards achieving this goal.”

NHS Director of Public Health for Berkshire East Pat Riordan said, “Plain packaging aims to ensure that packaging itself cannot act as an advert to youngsters tempting them into a highly-addictive habit that could seriously damage their health and lead to an early death. We urge people to participate in the consultation and make their views about plain packaging registered.”

Dan Rogerson MP said: “Whilst there have been some positive steps forward in recent years, such as the ban on advertising tobacco, better health warnings on products and a ban on cigarette vending machines, it is right that we do more to reduce the uptake of smoking amongst young people.
“I am pleased that the Coalition Government is looking at innovative approaches, such as plain packaging, to achieve this.
“Australia has passed legislation to bring in plain packaging for cigarettes by the end of this year, and I commend the Coalition Government’s intention to consult on whether plain, standardised packaging for tobacco would work here – to reduce the uptake of smoking and bring along a huge improvement in people’s health.”

Sue Weston, Smokefree Warwickshire Coordinator, said: “While tobacco advertising in the UK is a thing of the past, advertising on cigarette packaging remains. Every year, 340,000 children in the UK are tempted to try smoking and evidence suggests they are more likely to be attracted by designed tobacco packs, than by plain packs. We’re encouraging people to read and respond to the consultation.”

Carolyn Rule, Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing and HR at Cornwall Council, said: “I would encourage people to help make plain tobacco packaging a reality in the UK by signing up to this online petition and letting their local MP know their views. No parent wants to see their child facing a premature death and anything that can discourage them from being tempted by cigarettes should be welcomed.”

Felicity Owen, Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “We now have legislation in place to prevent children being targeted by tobacco promotion in large shops and supermarkets as tobacco displays have to be covered up.
“This campaign aims to extend that protection post sale by ensuring the packaging itself cannot act as an advert to youngsters, tempting them into a highly-addictive habit that could seriously damage their health and lead to an early death.”

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy, secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, said “Breaking the cycle and preventing children taking up smoking is the most effective way to reduce the use of tobacco and the long term damage it does to health. 5% of 11 to 15-year-olds are regular smokers and the habit leads to nearly 100,000 deaths in the UK yearly.
“I welcome this consultation and will be interested to see what responses come forward and to see whether plain packaging can be an additional tool to reduce the take up of smoking. I would encourage anyone with a view on this to take part in the consultation or contact me and I will be happy to pass on your views.”

Stewart Brock, NHS Somerset Public Health Specialist said: “Smokers start as children and continue as adults. Two thirds of smokers start before they are 18 and the vast majority while still teenagers - these are shocking facts. Big Tobacco knows this only too well and uses packaging to help replace the 100,000 people lost every year to smoking related diseases.
“Smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised,
plain packaging is designed to protect them and is not about current smokers.”
* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
Supporters Smoke Free South West Ulster Cancer Foundation ash Ash Scotland Ash Wales British Heart Foundation Cancer Research UK Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Cut Films Faculty of Public Health Fresh Smoke Free North East National Heart Forum NCSCT BTS - Stop Smoking Champions The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Royal College of Physicians TCC Tobacco Free Future Trading Standards Partnership South West Smoke Free Lincs - Promoting a tobacco free life