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Standardised tobacco packaging

We have strongly supported the introduction of new legislation on standardised packaging. This will ensure the removal of all branding from tobacco products and help eradicate the marketing power of cigarette brands.

Most smokers start by the age of 18 and there is evidence that the design of cigarette packets appeals to young people - with lipstick-style packs and other novelty designs targeting particular audiences.

We believe that generic packaging will remove an important marketing avenue for tobacco companies, and help reduce smoking rates. Research also suggests that standardised packaging increases the impact of health warnings.

It is pleasing to see that the Government has listened to our repeated calls for branding to be removed from tobacco products, and has made the long-awaited and welcome move to introduce standardised packaging.

Mark Porter
BMA council chair

On 20 May 2016 the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive came into effect, introducing a raft of measures aimed at curbing tobacco's appeal to children and young people.

Among these was the requirement that all packs should carry text and picture health warnings covering 65% of their surface, front and back, with the brand appearing at the bottom.

In April 2014 parliament legislated for standardised packaging to be introduced without the need for further primary legislation through the Children and Families Act. A move welcomed by the BMA.

In March 2015 MPs voted in favour of introducing standardised packaging for tobacco products.

As of 20 May 2016 all packs manufactured for sale in the UK have to be in standardised packaging, with a ‘sell-through’ period for old stock of one year to 20 March 2017.

The BMA strongly supports this move, and we have repeatedly called for all branding to be removed from tobacco products through our board of science reports and at the policy-setting annual representative meeting.