With today’s announcement that a law introducing plain cigarette packaging in England is set to be voted on by MPs before May’s election, members of the Tobacco Control Research Group within our Department for Health have given their reaction.
"The Government's decision to allow MPs to vote on standardised packaging before the General Election will finally bring to an end the tobacco industry's 3-year campaign to prevent regulation of cigarette packs in the UK. A campaign, our research shows, in which they repeatedly used misleading evidence on both the illicit tobacco trade and the health benefits of standardised packaging as a tool to delay legislation.
"Every year the equivalent of 6,900 classrooms of 11-15 year olds start smoking in the UK. It is to be hoped that the Devolved Assemblies will follow Westminster in introducing the measure and that the UK, like Australia, will stand firm against any legal action the tobacco companies may now undertake. This important measure will contribute to a reduction in the impact of smoking on our children's health."
Read Dr Hatchard's piece for the Conversation UK 'MPs vote on plain packaging signals industry defeat – but there may be a sting in the tale'.
For more on the work of the TCRG in this area see http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/case-studies/standardised-cigarette-packaging
The TobaccoTactics website also provides details of the arguments and tactics tobacco companies and their associates have used to oppose the legislation including leaked strategy documents from Philip Morris International who planned to promote its arguments via the extensive use of seemingly independent third-parties.