Sheffield director of public health welcomes cigarette packaging law

Standardised packaging for cigarettes. Photo: ASH/PA Wire
Standardised packaging for cigarettes. Photo: ASH/PA Wire
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The man in charge of Sheffield’s health has welcomed a new law that means cigarettes can only been sold in green packaging.

From today (Friday, May 20) all tobacco products manufactured in the UK must comply with new regulations which say cigarettes and tobacco must no longer be sold in bright packs, but in indistinct green packages.

Manufacturers have been given one year to sell-off old stock before new packaging is required from May 2017.

All new packs must contain a minimum of 20 cigarettes to make sure the packs are big enough for health warnings to cover 65 per cent of the front and back, with the brand name restricted to a standard size, font and colour. Packaging of hand-rolled tobacco must also be in the same drab green colour and contain a minimum of 30g of tobacco.

Sheffield’s director of public health Greg Fell said: “I welcome the new rules that will discourage smoking and deter young people from taking up the habit.

“Smoking is harmful to health and smoking-related illnesses remain some of the biggest killers.

“There’s support for anyone who wants to stop smoking here in Sheffield.”

The directive was adopted in 2014 but has been held up by a series of court cases testing its legality. It includes a ban on menthol cigarettes from 2020 and promotional statements such as ‘this product is free of additives’ or ‘is less harmful than other brands’.

The new rules are an attempt to cut the number of smokers across the EU by 2.4 million.

An estimated 700,000 premature deaths are caused each year, and cancer charities are backing the measures.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said: “For too long glitzy, cleverly designed packaging has lured young people into smoking, a habit that takes the lives of half of all long-term smokers.

“Australia introduced plain packaging in 2012 and has already seen a decline in smoking rates. If just a fraction of the 200,000 children in the UK who start smoking a year are discouraged, thousands of lives will be saved.”

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said the new packaging rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.

He said: “Everyone knows the health risks of smoking and no-one starts because of the packaging.

“Australia was the first country to introduce standardised packaging and it hasn’t worked. There is no evidence to suggest that smoking rates have fallen among children or adults as a result of the policy.

“Plain packaging is a declaration of war on consumers because the aim is to de-normalise not just the product but also the millions of adults who enjoy smoking and don’t want to quit.”

More information on quitting smoking is available at sheffield.yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk or by calling 0800 612 0011.