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Plain tobacco packaging - what you need to know

From 20 May 2016, all tobacco sold in the UK will have plain packaging as standard. 

Here's what you need to know about the change. 

What is ‘plain’ packaging?

Instead of having brand names, logos and designs, all tobacco will be sold in drab, green packaging. Tobacco packaging will have larger warnings, and can't use misleading words like 'light', 'natural' and 'organic'. 

What will it look like?

It will be a drab, green colour. The text and picture warnings will take up more than 65% of the box and appear at the top, with the brand name much smaller underneath.

When does plain tobacco packaging start?

From 20 May 2016.

What if I still see tobacco with the old packaging after 20 May 2016?

It will take some time for the changes to come into effect as shops get through their old stock. Shops have 1 year to sell their old tobacco stock, but after that they won't be allowed. 

Why are we changing to plain tobacco packaging?

It's important that packaging is less misleading and highlights the dangers of smoking.

A group of researchers found that standardised without the logos and colours, packs are less appealing - and the new design will also make the health warnings stand out. 

How does tobacco packaging attract young people into smoking?

There's lots of evidence that designed packets with flashy logos and colours entice young people into smoking. The tobacco industry’s own documents show they have invested lots of money in designing clever packaging in order to recruit young people to start smoking their products. 

Does having designed packets really influence people to start smoking? Isn't it peer pressure, or because their parents do?

It seems hard to believe, but it has been proven to be one of many factors and there's evidence that shows changing the design will have an impact. 

Standardised packaging was introduced in Australia in 2012 and the country has already seen a decline in smoking rates

What next - fizzy drinks and sweets?

Tobacco is very different to sugar, fat and salt - it's lethal. No amount of smoking is in any way good for you, and that makes it a special case.

True, the government have now decided to tax sugar in soft drinks, but this is in an unrelated attempt to combat obesity. It would be wrong to assume this tax was influenced by the plain packs decision.

How was Asthma + Lung UK involved?

We started working with other charities to help campaign for the Plain Packaging for Cigarettes back in 2012.
And you helped us raise awareness of this issue. You asked your MP to support the cause - which was vital in helping to convince parliament to act. You told us your stories about smoking, and you posted your support on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you so much - we couldn't have done it without you.