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Plain tobacco packaging

Response to UK announcement on standardised packs

The Scottish Government today re-emphasised its intention introduce plain cigarette packaging.

The UK Government yesterday (21 January) announced it would lay regulations for standardised packaging of tobacco products before May 2015 allowing law to come into force in May 2016.

Scottish Ministers have long been committed to plain packaging and will now work with the UK Government to support this outcome.

Welcoming the UK Government’s long awaited decision Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said:

“Here in Scotland we have called for action on this issue for a long time, with the Health Secretary writing once again to the Secretary of State for Health last week, making our support for plain packaging absolutely clear.

“Our position has always been that this move will be an important step in tackling tobacco related disease. It is a bold step, but to build a generation free from tobacco, it is necessary to restrict the imagery and design that is used to encourage people – in particular young people – to use these addictive and lethal products.

“Tobacco use comes at great cost, not only for our NHS but also our families and communities. Each year more than 13,000 people in Scotland die as a result of tobacco use. Around the same number of young people take up smoking each year. That is why we must continue to take bold steps, such as plain packaging, to achieve our vision of a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034.

“While it has taken the UK Government a considerable period of time to follow our lead on this important issue, we now look forward to receiving the final regulations to agree and will continue to support effective regulation and implementation across Scotland and rest of UK.”

• A Legislative Consent Motion was agreed by the Scottish Parliament in 2014 to allow the UK Government to legislate in Scotland on this matter, with the final details to be agreed in due course.
• A UK wide consultation on draft regulations ran in summer 2014
• Standardised packaging involves regulating the design characteristics of tobacco packaging (e.g. the branding, colouring, typography, size, shape and method of opening), so that tobacco products must be sold in a standardised form of packaging.
• Standardised Packaging has been one of a number of measures introduced in
Australia at a time when smoking rates have fallen.

Since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999, it has overseen:
• Legislation to ban tobacco advertising in 2002
• The first UK nation to ban smoking in public places, in 2006
• Increased age for tobacco sales from 16 to 18 in 2007
• Implementation of the most robust tobacco display regulations in the UK. In force in large shops from 2013 and small shops from 2015.
• Banned tobacco vending machines in April 2013.
• Establishment of the only Tobacco retail Register in the UK in 2011
• Comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns
• Third country in the world to announce an ambitious tobacco-free target. Our 2013 Strategy, Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation, set out our vision for a tobacco-free Scotland (less than 5% prevalence) by 2034.
• First country in the UK to commit to implementing Standardised Packaging for tobacco products.
• Set a target to reduce the proportion of children in Scotland exposed to second-hand smoke in the home from 12 per cent to six per cent by 2020 – potentially saving 50,000 children from exposure to harmful smoke.

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