A study posted online this morning shows that experts believe smoking would be reduced by the introduction of plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products. The study by the University of Cambridge was published on the News Medical website examined the likely impact on smoking rates in adults and children.
Experts believe that plain packaging of tobacco products would cut smoking, a new study has found.
Tobacco control experts from around the world estimate that two years after the introduction of generic packaging the number of adult smokers would be reduced by one percentage point (in the UK - from 21 to 20%), and the percentage of children trying smoking would be reduced by three percentage points (in the UK - from 27 to 24%). The Cambridge research was published today in the journal BMC Public Health.
Because Australia, the first country to implement plain packaging, only did so in December of last year there is no quantifiable evidence as of yet. Therefore, scientists have used the next best option, the expertise of internationally-renowned tobacco control specialists from around the world.
For the study, 33 tobacco control experts from the UK (14), Australasia (12) and North America (7) were recruited. Professionals in these regions were targeted because these countries are currently considering (or have recently implemented) plain packaging for tobacco products. They were then interviewed about how plain packaging - packaging without brand imagery or promotional text and using standardised formatting - might impact the rates of smoking in adults and children.
The experts estimated that plain packaging would reduce the number of adult smokers by one percentage point (on average) two years after the introduction of plain packaging.
Professor Theresa Marteau, Director of the University of Cambridge's Behaviour and Health Research Unit, who led the study, said: "Currently, approximately 10 million adults in Britain smoke. A one percentage point decline - from 21% of the population to 20% - would equate to 500,000 people who will not suffer the health effects of smoking."
More impressively, they believe that generic packaging would reduce the percentage of children trying smoking by three percentage points (on average) two years after plain packaging is introduced.
Dr Rachel Pechey, first author of the study from the University of Cambridge's Behaviour and Health Research Unit, said: "Given that the majority of smokers first try smoking in adolescence, the impact on children is of particular importance. Nicotine dependence develops rapidly after lighting up for the first time, even before the user is smoking once a week."
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