Tobacco Products (Packaging)

Health written statement – made on 12th July 2013.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

The Government have today published “Consultation on the standardised packaging of tobacco products: summary report”. The consultation was undertaken, with the agreement of the devolved Administrations, on a UK-wide basis and the summary report has been prepared and published by the Department of Health.

Reducing in England the health harms caused by smoking tobacco is a public health priority for the Government and the United Kingdom is recognised across the world for having comprehensive, evidence-based tobacco control strategies.

Standardised packaging of tobacco products refers to measures that may be taken to restrict or end the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names that are displayed in a standard colour and typeface.

The consultation sought views on whether standardised tobacco packaging would:

reduce the appeal of tobacco products to consumers; increase the effectiveness of health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products; reduce the ability of tobacco packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking; and have a positive effect on smoking-related attitudes, beliefs, intentions and behaviours, particularly among children and young people.

Many thousands of responses to the consultation were received, and the views expressed were highly polarised, with strong views put forward on both sides of the debate and a range of organisations generating campaigns and petitions. Of those who provided detailed feedback, some 53% were in favour of standardised packaging, while 43% thought the Government should do nothing about tobacco packaging.

Having carefully considered these differing views, the Government have decided to wait until the emerging impact of the decision in Australia can be measured before we make a final decision on this policy in England.

Currently, only Australia has introduced standardised packaging, although the Governments of New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland have committed to introduce similar policies. Standardised packaging, therefore, remains a policy under consideration.

In the meantime, the Government in England will continue to work to reduce smoking rates through ending the display of tobacco in all shops, running national behaviour change campaigns to encourage smokers to quit and through supporting local authorities to provide effective stop smoking services. Our strategy is working—we are recognised as the leading country in Europe for tobacco control and for the first time since records began, adult smoking rates are under 20%.

“Consultation on the standardised packaging of tobacco products: summary report” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available from:

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/standardised-packaging-of-tobacco-products.

The consultation exercise fulfilled our commitment in “Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England” which sets out our comprehensive, evidence-based, programme of tobacco control for England.