Coalition must act on cigarette packaging

Wednesday, 24 April 2013  at 14:18

A letter published in the Guardian called on the Coalition to act on cigarette packaging.

The letter read:

On 5 March the secretary of state for health published his call to action on reducing premature mortality. This correctly identified tobacco use as the biggest single behavioural risk factor for premature death and included a commitment to decide whether to introduce standardised packaging, as recommended by health organisations he consulted, including signatories to this letter (Report, 17 April). But with the Queen's speech only two weeks away, we have yet to hear of any such decision.

The arguments in favour of standardised packaging are compelling and we have yet to see any credible evidence from the tobacco industry against legislation. This has clearly been recognised by public health minister Anna Soubry MP, who made clear her support for standardised packaging of tobacco products on the Today programme last Friday.

Tobacco, unlike other causes of disease, has a global and powerful industry promoting its interests. JTI Gallaher, maker of Camel, is spending over £2m on its campaign against standard packs, running ads that have been ruled misleading by advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority.

With over 200,000 young people taking up smoking every year and 100,000 people dying as a result of their habit, we urgently need assurances from Jeremy Hunt that he will listen to health experts and stand firm against this industry pressure. It will take a lot of explanation if this crucial public health measure is not included in the Queen's speech on 8 May.

Professor Lindsey Davies President, Faculty of Public Health, Dr Janet Atherton President, Association of Directors of Public Health, Dr Vivienne Nathanson Director of professional activities, BMA, Dr Clare Gerada Chair of council, Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor John Britton Director, UKCTCS, Simon Gillespie Chief executive, British Heart Foundation, Leon Livermore Chief executive, Trading Standards Institute, Penny Woods Chief executive, British Lung Foundation, Francine Bates Chief executive, Lullaby Trust, Professor John Moxham Chair, Ash

Click here to read the letter on the Guardian website. 
* 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