From today (Saturday), all tobacco products sold in the UK will come in plain standardised packaging, as decades of harmful marketing tactics by the tobacco industry draw to a close.
Alongside standardised packaging, a series of new regulations and taxes also mean smokers are paying more for a pack of cigarettes than ever before. The average smoker will now spend more than £2000 each year fuelling their addiction. That’s enough to fill a family’s food trolley for six months, buy a pair of Premier League season tickets, or even take the kids to Disneyland.
Smoking already disproportionately affects the lowest earners – it is the single biggest cause of health inequalities in the UK and these figures also highlight the significant economic burden tobacco places on society.
Price is one of the biggest deterrents to smoking – the higher the price of a pack, more people will quit. By increasing tobacco tax, smoking rates and health inequalities will fall.
The restrictions are designed to make cigarettes less attractive to the hundreds of children who start smoking in the UK every day – and will result in noticeable changes to cigarette packaging and products including:
- A minimum pack size of 20 cigarettes as packs of 10 will no longer be on sale
- Larger health warnings and graphic images
- All wording confined to a uniform size and design on a muddy green background
- No misleading information such as ‘low tar’ or ‘organic’
- A ban on flavoured cigarettes and flavoured rolling tobacco
Huge progress has been made in tobacco control and the introduction of standard packs is the latest in a large number of effective measures already in place. The smoking ban, increased taxes and putting tobacco out of sight in shops have all helped to change attitudes and decrease smoking rates.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “Smoking is still the single largest preventable cause of death in the UK and kills around 96,000 people every year – this cannot continue.
“For decades the tobacco industry has got away with promoting their products in slickly designed packaging, which distracts from the true lethal and addictive nature of the contents.
“Today marks a momentous victory in the battle for a tobacco free future. Standardised packs will help protect the next generation from an addiction that kills around two thirds of all long term smokers.
“But there’s still a lot more to do – there is a real opportunity for the next government to help the UK’s 9 million smokers quit for good.”