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Tobacco Regulation

Tobacco Regulation

No other product on our shop shelves if used correctly will kill half of users. This is why it is important to regulate tobacco with laws designed to protect children, to encourage quitting and the public from exposure to smoke.


Consumer protection

The European Tobacco Products Directive allows member states to add picture warnings on tobacco products, subject to approval by the European Commission. The UK government introduced picture warnings on cigarette packs in October 2008. Since October 2010 picture warnings have been required on other smoked tobacco products.


Sales to Children

Since 1 October 2007 it has been illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 (previously 16). A ban on sales of tobacco from vending machines to reduce youth access entered into force in October 2011.


Point of sale

Laws prohibiting large shops from displaying tobacco came into force in April 2012 while smaller shops removed tobacco displays from April 2015. 


Harm reduction and nicotine regulation

While nicotine is the most addictive element of tobacco, it is the tar and other toxins in tobacco smoke, not nicotine, that cause most of the harm. Fresh supports the development of harm reduction approaches to support smokers who cannot quit immediately to be offered alternative approaches to reduce the risks and improve health outcomes.

For this reason, we issued a position statement on electronic cigarettes in March 2015 with the regional Making Smoking History Partnership, and which Fresh has updated since.





The use of taxes to increase the price of tobacco is known to the single most effective lever to encourage smokers to quit.  A World Bank report from 2000 estimated that a 10% increase in tobacco prices leads to estimated 4% reduction in tobacco consumption in developed countries, and the impact is higher in developing countries and in disadvantaged communities.  Fresh works with ASH and the UK Centre for Tobacco Control and Alcohol Studies each year to call for increased taxation of tobacco to help more smokers to quit.


In 2014 Fresh responded to an HM Revenue & Customs consultation on measures to improve tax controls on the tobacco industry – our response can be found here.