This year MP’s are due to vote on a new law to introduce plain packaged cigarettes and tobacco products. This means that from next year branded cigarette packets will be banned. Advertising will be stripped from the cardboard boxes and packets and all tobacco products are to be sold in plain, bland packaging.
This introduction is said to dramatically drop the number of smokers across the UK. But would this stop those who have smoked since they were young teens or just those who smoke purely for image.
Figures suggest that 200,000 teens start smoking every year. These young would-be smokers are tempted by the logos and branding used by the big corporations on packaging. If this law is approved it will come into action in 2016, the same time as the revised European tobacco products directive, this will now require all tobacco manufacturers to adhere to guidelines including how much of certain ingredients they can use. The new directive also means that only certain health warnings and images can be used. For example one of the guidelines is ‘Health warnings shall be surrounded by a black border of a width of 1mm’.
This law will change every aspect of cigarette and tobacco packaging. Here are some of the changes that set to be enforced over the next year.
- Larger graphic health warnings, covering two thirds of the front and back of packs: the bigger the warning, the more effective it is at deterring children and non-smokers. Warnings would have to go at the top of cigarette packs, with the branding squeezed into the remaining space at the bottom. The UK government has announced that it’s ready to go further by removing branding altogether.
- A ban on flavoured cigarettes and rolling tobacco. Gimmicky products like chocolate, vanilla, or “click” cigarettes with menthol capsules in the filter – all products that tempt young people – will come off the market.
- The slim lipstick style packs – so attractive to girls – will be banned, although slim cigarettes will continue to be allowed on the market, as there was, unfortunately, no majority to ban these.
- Cigarette packs will have to be a standard shape, and contain at least 20 cigarettes. So the “pocket money” packs of 10 cigarettes, as well as small packs of rolling tobacco, will disappear. Price is a big factor for young people, and getting rid of small packs is one way of raising the price barrier.
- Packs with novelty openings – like those that slide open – which are attractive to boys will be banned – packs will have to have a standard, flip top or side-hinge opening.
- The tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide labelling will come off packs. These gave smokers the false impression that a lower tar choice is somehow less harmful, whereas in reality, smokers simply compensate in the way they smoke.
- There’s a lot more we need to learn about what is actually in a cigarette, and what effect the 600 plus additives have on our health. The tobacco industry will be required to produce studies on additives, and pay for them to be independently peer-reviewed. This could ultimately lead to bans on substances which make smoking more addictive and damaging to health.
- New anti-illicit-trade measures: a hologram on cigarette packs to crack down on counterfeiting; and a track-and-trace scheme to reduce smuggling by allowing authorities to track the movement of cigarettes along the supply chain.
- E-cigarettes will be regulated for the first time. The law offers two routes to put e-cigarettes on the market: as a medicine or as a consumer product subject to safeguards. If companies choose to make a claim that their e-cigarette helps smokers quit, they will have to seek a medicines licence – and then the strength and advertising restrictions do not apply.
So is this new bout of laws going to impact every smoker across the UK as hoped or will it just be taken on the chin like many other laws that have been introduced?
As a smoker myself the only way that this law will affect me is that it will encourage me to buy larger packets of cigarettes or tobacco, which will cost more at first but it won’t stop me from wanting to smoke and like many if I were to quit it would be when I was ready to. The look of a box or packet is only going to affect the image conscious people across the UK and not those who are long term smokers. The main reasoning behind these new laws is the younger generation. The numbers have gone up and teens are now younger and younger when they are introduced to smoking and then feel that it’s the ‘norm’ to have 10 cigarettes in their school bag. But will this law lower the numbers or not impact them at all?