Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd is backing plans to standardise cigarette packaging in a bid to deter youngsters from smoking and reduce the financial burden on public health care services.
He has also dismissed claims by tobacco companies that standardised packaging will increase the sale of illicit tobacco.
Tony has written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, in support of the proposals, which is one of a number of stop smoking measures expected to be announced by the Government later this year.
Tony said: “Smoking is a lethal addiction – one which unfortunately is all too appealing to our children and we have a duty and responsibility to do all we can to deter smoking and protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“More than 200,000 11-15 year olds take up smoking every year in the UK, with almost 600 children trying a cigarette for the first time, every single day*. By taking away the brightly coloured, branded packaging and replacing it with more prominent, shocking health warnings, we’ll be taking away one reason for our children to start smoking.
“Tobacco companies have argued that these proposals will make packaging easier to counterfeit and so increase the sale of illegal cigarettes but I’ve spoken with senior officers at Greater Manchester Police who have given me absolute confidence that the security markings to be used on the standardised packaging will be no less useful than the existing system, making them no easier to copy.
“It’s clear to me that standardised packaging will help to reduce the number of people, especially children, smoking, which in turn will improve the health of our citizens and reduce the burden on our public health services. That’s why I have written to the Home Secretary in support of these proposals.”
Pat Karney, Director of Tobacco Action, added: “The tobacco companies are spending millions on trying to stop these sensible proposals. I am proud our Commissioner is standing up for the welfare and health of our young people.
“Kids have a right to grow up in a smoke free world and be protected from the tobacco industry.”
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 December 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.
Click here for an infographic on smoking and children. From the plainpacksprotect.co.uk website.