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Review Paves Way for Standard Tobacco Packs


Fresh today welcomed the findings of a major review into protecting children from gorgeous and glamorous cigarette packs that make thousands of children more tempted to smoke.



MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of replacing the current glossy, colourful packs with plain standardised boxes in the Commons in February. Now an independent review by Sir Cyril Chantler has reported today there is a strong public health case for the policy.



Fresh joined organisations such as ASH, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK in calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to introduce standardised packaging regulations as soon as possible to help stop nearly 9,000 North East children getting hooked on smoking every year.



The latest YouGov poll found that 69% of North East adults support plain standardised packs, with only 9% opposing. It also found more smokers support plain, standardised packs than oppose them (37% compared with 35% who oppose).



Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: "It’s a scandal that toxic, addictive products are gift-wrapped in glamorous, colourful, fashionable packs which make them more tempting to young people to try.



"Most smokers start as children, and half of long term cigarette smokers will die early as a result of tobacco. There are packs on shop shelves that resemble Lego and perfume.



"We are delighted the Chantler Review has stated such a strong case for standardised packaging. The Government are now in the position to do something fantastic and reduce the appeal to stop more young people getting hooked and dying in their 40s or 50s."




 Cllr Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: "Smoking is still the biggest cause of diseases that kill people in the North East and every council in our region has supported standardised packaging. Councils in the North East are concerned that the current colourful and glamorous packaging is a key factor in encouraging 9,000 children in the North East to start smoking every year and believe there is a role for government to legislate to protect our children from tobacco marketing.



"Most smokers don’t want their children to start. We call on the Government to act now to protect our children and young people."



Evidence shows that standardised packaging will make tobacco packs less attractive to children and young people, stop colours like white and silver being used to wrongly suggest lower harm, and make health warnings stand out more.



Australia was the first country to introduce standardised packaging, in December 2012. Soon after standardised packs began to appear in Australian shops, smokers reported that they found cigarettes from plain packs less appealing or satisfying and were more likely to think about quitting. There was also a big increase in the number of people contacting smoking quitlines following the introduction of the new packs.



On 28th November 2013, the Government announced that it had appointed the eminent paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler to conduct an independent review into the public health impact of the standardised packaging of cigarettes and tobacco products. The announcement followed Parliamentary votes to include in the Children and Families Bill powers for the Health Secretary to introduce regulations on standardised packaging in England. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments have also supported the policy.



The Chantler review has also concluded that standardised packaging need not increase the illicit trade in tobacco, rejecting claims from the tobacco industry. All the key security features on existing packs of cigarettes would also be present on standardised packs (including coded numbering and covert anti-counterfeit marks).



Andrew Leggett, Deputy Director for Tobacco and Alcohol Strategy at HM Revenue and Customs has said that "We’re very doubtful that it would have a material effect [on counterfeiting and the illicit trade in tobacco]".