Move to ban cigarette branding

The Government will pave the way for cigarette packets to be stripped of all branding, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said.

Cigarette branding rules would be a 'danger to free speech'

As the row rumbles on over whether tobacco should be sold without branding, a survey has found that more than half of people would be in favour of cigarette packs without any branding.

Among the critics of packaging proposals is Conservative MP Mark Field who warns it would create "a dangerous precedent for the future of commercial free speech" and encourage smuggling.

Anti-smoking group ASH has hit back:

The argument used by 'big tobacco' and its supporters that this would lead to an increase in smuggling is laughable.

It's already so easy to copy packaging that it's only through covert markings that enforcement officers can tell the difference between authentic and counterfeit cigarette packs.

We need to make smoking history for our children and getting rid of the glitzy packaging is the essential next step if we are to succeed.

– Ash chief executive Deborah Arnott

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Plain smoking campaign

cigarettes on a shelf
62% of people were in favour of cigarettes being sold in unbranded packaging

An opinion poll has found strong public support for forcing cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging in England.

The survey, by YouGov for campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), found 62% supported the policy, which is due to be put out for consultation by ministers on Monday.

Only 11% were opposed to the move.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley issued a hostile warning to the tobacco industry this week that he wanted to reach a point where it had "no business" in the UK.

BRC call proposed tobacco regulations 'crazy'

So much forjoined up government and minimising burdens on business. Having just forcedlarge retailers to spend almost £16 million refitting stores to hide tobaccoproducts the Government is now confirming it’s considering legislation onpackaging. That’scrazy and completely against the Government’s own better regulation principles.If a decision is taken to go ahead with plain packaging, concealing productsfrom view in shops becomes irrelevant.

– British Retail Consortium Food Director, Andrew Opie.

Conservative MP hits out against proposed plain cigarette packets

Conservative MP Mark Field
Conservative MP Mark Field Credit: Conservative Party

Conservative MP Mark Field has spoken out against the proposed plans, warning that enforcing plain cigarette packages could infringe fundermaental legal rights and do further damage to the economy.

"The enforced introduction of plain packaging would infringe fundamental legal rights routinely afforded to international business, erode British intellectual property and brand equity and would create a dangerous precedent for the future of commercial free speech.

"I suspect plain packaging will result in other sorts of negative impacts, including the increased health threat posed by counterfeit tobacco, the encouragement of smuggled products and damaging competition.

"Indeed, the Treasury is already losing around £3 billion a year from tobacco that has evaded UK duty; criminal gangs operating a contraband supply chain at the expense of legitimate businesses.

"All of this could result in a potential loss of investment and jobs that goes way beyond the tobacco manufacturing sector."

McBride calls for total ban on cigarette advertising

Tobacco advertising is rightly banned in the UK, yet current glitzy packaging clearly still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box. It's an absurd loophole the tobacco industry takes full advantage of to lure in new young smokers. We must close if we really want to protect younger generations from taking up this fatal habit."

– Betty McBride, The British Heart Foundation's Director of Policy and Communications

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King calls for remaining loopholes to be closed

It's vital that the UK closes one of the last remaining loopholes that portrays smoking as something glamorous and normal, rather than the lethal product it truly is. Ending the packet racket and putting all cigarettes in plain packs with large health warnings is crucial. No one wants to see children take up smoking, and while plain packs won't stop everyone from smoking, it will give millions of children one less reason to start.

– Jean King, Director of Tobacco control at Cancer Research UK,

Lansley may face court action over plain cigarette packets

Designs on packets such as these could become extinct in UK shops if new laws are passed
Designs on packets such as these could become extinct in UK shops if new laws are passed Credit: Reuters

Last year, Australia approved similar laws to those proposed by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, introducing plain packaging to reduce the attractions of smoking. Three global tobacco giants launched lawsuits saying the rules infringed trademark rights.

Three of the world's four largest tobacco groups, Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco are challenging the new law in the High Court.

300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year according to Department of Health smoking figures

George Osborne announced a rise in the price of Cigarettes last month
George Osborne announced a rise in the price of Cigarettes last month

More than 300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year and 5% of children aged 11 to 15 are regular smokers, according to Department of Heath figures.

Meanwhile 39% of smokers say that they were smoking regularly before the age of 16.

The price of cigarettes has also been increased by the government in attempt to price them out of range of the younger smoker.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in last month's Budget that the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes would rise by 37p to an average of £7.36.

'Obvious step if Government wants to make smoking history'

Cigarette branding debate
The Government is set to pave the way for cigarette packets to be stripped of all branding Credit: Reuters

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: "The consultation is just the first step, putting us in pole position to be the first European nation to put tobacco in plain, standardised packs.

"Now that cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship and tobacco displays have all been banned this is the obvious next step if the Government truly wants to make smoking history."

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