A UK-wide consultation on whether tobacco should be sold in standardised, or plain packaging, has been launched today by health secretary Andrew Lansley.
The consultation will ask individuals whether they think standardised packaging will have an impact on peoples health and reduce the uptake of smoking.
The consultation suggests for the first time what requirements for standardised packaging could consist of, including no branding, a uniform colour and a standard font and text for any writing on the pack.
The consultation will seek views on whether:
• Tobacco packaging should remain unchanged
• Plain packaging should be adopted
• A different option should be considered.
Respondents will also be asked to consider what the specific impact of standardised packaging could be, including whether it could:
• Reduce the appeal of tobacco products
• Increase the effectiveness of health warnings
• Impact on the tobacco industry and retailers
• Encourage consumers to buy tobacco products abroad.
Smoking accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK each year, is the main cause of early death and treating people with smoking related conditions costs the NHS billions each year.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health. Each year it accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK and one in two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking disease.
‘That is why the health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives that might encourage smokers to quit and stop young people not taking up smoking in the first place.
‘Through this consultation we want to hear as many views as possible about whether tobacco packing should remain unchanged, plain packaging should be adopted or a different option should be considered.’
The consultation will be open for responses from 16 April to 10 July. Any person, business or organisation with an interest is encouraged to respond.
Any decisions to take further policy action on tobacco packaging will be taken only after full consideration is given to consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.
A copy of the consultation can be found at http://consultations.dh.gov.uk.