Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd is backing calls to revive proposals for standardised cigarette packaging.
Peers from across the three political parties are expected to try and amend the Children and Families Bill at the House of Lords committee stage when it starts on Wednesday (10 October). Labour’s Lord Faulkner, Liberal Democrat Baroness Tyler, Conservative Lord McColl, and cross-bencher Baroness Finlay will use the debate to pressure the Government to relook at the plans that were shelved earlier this year.
It follows research from the British Heart Foundation which shows 80% of teenagers are in favour of standardised packaging. The charity, which surveyed 2,000 13 to 18 year olds in the UK and 500 in Australia where standardised packaging was introduced last year, says health warnings on packs are ‘not up to the job’. The poll shows only a third of UK teenagers are deterred from smoking by current cigarette packs, compared to half of teenagers in Australia, where pack are almost entirely covered by graphic warnings.*
Tony said: “It’s disgraceful that the Government shelved these plans when it’s clear, not just to me, but to our young people that standardised packaging will help to reduce the number of people smoking. That’s why I wrote to the Home Secretary in April and I’m now calling on the Government again to listen to peers and young people, and rethink and take action to deter youngsters from taking up this lethal addiction and reduce the financial burden on public health care services.
“Claims by tobacco companies that standardised packaging will make cigarettes easier to counterfeit and increase the sale of illegal tobacco are rubbish. Senior GMP officers have told me, with absolute confidence, that the security markings on standardised packaging will be no less useful and no easier to copy. The Government has to put the health of our citizens, especially our children, before the profits of industry giants.”
The proposals would mean all cigarette packs would look the same, with no branding or logos and health warnings made more prominent.
The Department of Health ran a public consultation on plain packaging between March 2011 and August 2012. In May 2013 David Cameron shelved the plans.
In December 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.
*Figures from British Heart Foundation.