Issued by City of York Council
The move comes after a Lancet study of 19 countries found the UK falling down the health wellbeing league table. It found Britain’s pace of decline in premature mortality has fallen well behind the average of 14 other original members of the European Union as well as Australia, Canada, Norway, and the United States over the past 20 years.
A key reason was the durability of a range of public health issues, including diet, drink and drugs.
Smoking causes more than 1,300 deaths every year in York and North Yorkshire and the Policy Exchange thinktank has estimated UK-wide smoking costs society £14bn. Despite a massive reduction in the numbers smoking since the 1950s, it is still estimated that one in five British people smoke and 16.9% of over 18s in York in 2011 were classed as smokers.
There is already a complete ban on cigarette advertising and smoking in public places. The 2009 Health Act ended open display of tobacco products, mainly in supermarkets, from April last year and will come into force for all other shops from April 2015.
The Department of Health started a consultation in March 2011 on standardised packaging which ended last August. City of York Council responded to this recent consultation supporting standardised packs. Research for the department by the University of Stirling found that “plain pack colours have negative connotations, weaken attachment to brands, project a less desirable smoker identity, and expose the reality of smoking.”
The study also found that non-smokers tended to find standardised packaging less appealing than smokers, and younger respondents tended to find it less appealing than older respondents. Around two thirds of smokers say they started smoking before they were 18.
Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Services, said: “City of York Council supports the move towards standardised packaging because the packets are less attractive to children and young people, less misleading about the health risks of smoking and make health warnings more graphic, obvious and effective.”
Paul Edmondson-Jones, City of York Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Recent research suggests established adult smokers rarely change the brand of tobacco they smoke and the vast majority know which brand they will ask for before they walk into a shop. Therefore new, young smokers are the primary target of industry marketing.
“Moving to standardised packaging would reduce the brand appeal and reduce smoking initiation. The introduction of standardised packaging is a necessary measure to improve public health in the long term.”
Since December in Australia cigarettes must be sold in uniform drab olive-green packets with graphic health warnings. The only marker of difference between products is the brand name written on the packet in a uniform style.
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