09/03/2010

Comprehensive tobacco plan a victory for public health

Cigarette on ashtrayThe Coalition Government has announced details of its new Tobacco Control Plan and we're pleased to see the plan includes a range of measures which will help protect people from the dangers of smoking.

The plan, annouced on No Smoking Day, includes implementing important legislation prohibiting the display of tobacco in large shops in England from April next year and all other shops from April 2015.

The Coalition Government has also announced it will consult on plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes across the UK by the end of the year. Under the proposal, cigarette packaging would be plain-coloured and show simply the product name, brand and health warnings.

We’re pleased to see the Government will defend the ban on cigarette vending machines due in October because we’ve been fighting hard to make sure this ban goes ahead.

Betty McBride, our Director of Policy and Communications, said:

Today is a victory for health campaigners and a show of strength

“The Coalition Government has been under enormous pressure from a tobacco industry hell-bent on derailing important legislation banning tobacco displays in shops. Today is a victory for health campaigners and show of strength from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

“Though we’re slightly disappointed the display ban is being delayed, it will help prevent the industry from marketing their products to children and will go a long way to helping young people avoid a lifetime of addiction and health problems. The introduction of plain packaging would complement the ban and signal the end of slick, colourful designs used as ‘silent salesmen’.

“Before today’s announcement, tobacco bosses have been keeping busy scaremongering retailers with claims that the display ban will see them facing an insurmountable financial burden. The evidence from the ban in Ireland disproves those claims and the changes the Government has made to the legislation, including giving shopkeepers more time to comply, should provide further reassurance.”

Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and despite one in five premature deaths from heart and circulatory disease being linked to smoking, 21 per cent of adults in Great Britain still smoke cigarettes. Two thirds took up the habit before they were 18 years old.
We've been campaigning for a tobacco display ban to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children. The charity has also been calling for plain packaging.

The proposals in the Tobacco Control Plan will build on the success of the smokefree legislation brought in four years ago – an academic review of the legislation was published alongside the plan and shows this has had beneficial effects on health in England.