Plain packaging for cigarettes - a momentous step forward
Penny explains what parliament’s approval of standardised tobacco packaging means for the UK.
Monday 16 March 2015 marked a momentous step forward for public health. Parliamentarians stuck to their guns - despite the desperate efforts of tobacco lobbyists – in the name of the 200,000 children in this country who are every year enticed to take up smoking.
Parliament’s decision means that standardised tobacco packaging will be introduced across the UK by May 2016. Tobacco companies will no longer be able to target children and young people using glitzy and eye-catching packaging.
The measure is an immense triumph and one which we, our supporters, and other charities and health organisations have campaigned on for years.
The impact of plain packaging
It is estimated that each year 100,000 people die from smoking-related diseases. It's a devastating fact that these smokers are replaced by around 200,000 young people taking up this deadly habit.
The benefits of plain packaging are clear. Since its introduction in Australia in 2012, there has been a reduction in the number of people starting smoking. Last year, the UK government commissioned an independent review which also concluded in favour of standardised packaging. The review dismissed the supposed risks, such as counterfeiting and black market trade.
Both houses of parliament have been supportive of the measure – that includes the Prime Minister David Cameron, and his health ministers.
On 11 March 2015 367 to 113 MPs voted to introduce standardised packs. In the Lords, less than a week later, the measure was passed with little resistance, confirming the introduction of the law by May 2016.
Last month, parliament also approved a law to ban smoking in cars carrying children. We're certain that this, along with standardised packs, will prove to be the most significant milestones for public health since the smoke-free legislation of 2007.
By helping us raise awareness of this issue, posting your support on Facebook and Twitter, emailing or writing a letter to your MP, or simply making a small donation to support our campaigning work - all of you have helped convince parliament of the vital need to act now.
So, thank you, from all of us at the British Lung Foundation. Every young person discouraged from taking up smoking could be another life saved. That’s a pretty incredible thought.
We campaign on a wide range of important lung health issues in the UK to make sure everyone affected by a lung condition will be heard. Find out how you can get involved.