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Cancer Research UK welcomes action on tobacco packaging

Plain, standardised tobacco packaging is a step closer to being introduced to the UK after the Government announced they will proceed with a vote on the issue.

Cancer Research UK has welcomed the move which now allows a vote in the Commons.

The move would make brightly coloured and slickly designed packs illegal, with all packs becoming uniform in size, shape and design with large picture health warnings.

Initial consultation into standard packs began nearly three years ago in April 2012. Since then, there has been the independent Chantler Review which came out in favour of standardised tobacco packaging to reduce the appeal to children and young people. There has also been a second consultation as well as a vote in parliament overwhelmingly in favour of standard packs.

New figures released by Cancer Research UK this evening show that people back these plans.

Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of voters across the political spectrum said they support removing the colourful designs and branding from tobacco packaging, replacing them with packs of uniform size and shape with prominent health warnings. Only 15 per cent were opposed to the measure.

The new survey of more than 1,800 adults from across Britain reveals high levels of support from potential Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP voters.

Seventy-five per cent of potential Conservative, 75 per cent of Labour, 80 per cent of Liberal Democrat and 64 per cent of UKIP voters all said they backed making tobacco packs less attractive.

Government action to reduce smoking rates was also popular, with around four fifths (79 per cent) of the public supporting action to try and lower the number of young people under 18 who start smoking.

Again, this was high across the board with 86 per cent of Conservative supporters, 78 per cent of Labour, 90 per cent of Liberal Democrat and 76 per cent of UKIP supporters showing support.

Evidence from Australia – where standard packs were introduced over two years ago – continues to grow, showing that standard packaging of tobacco is hitting sales of this deadly product. Between 2010 and 2013 – the period where standard packs were introduced – Australia saw a 15 per cent relative reduction in the number of daily smokers aged 14 or older. Data also confirmed that a higher proportion of young people have never smoked.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We applaud the Government for taking this big step towards getting plain, standardised cigarette packs on the shelves and protecting children from tobacco marketing.

“This is welcome news, and with such wide public and cross-party political support it’s vital this announcement leads to a vote on standardised packaging, as soon as possible, and certainly before the General Election.

“Two-thirds of smokers start before the age 18, beginning an addiction which will kill half of them if they become long-term smokers. By stripping cigarette packs of their marketing features, we can reduce the number of young people lured into an addiction, the products of which are death and disease.”

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