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Standardised tobacco packaging comes into force

No smoking sign hospital-2014 16x9

Doctors have lauded a ‘significant step forward’ in tobacco control as new rules enforcing plain packets for cigarettes were due to come into force this weekend.

From Sunday, tobacco firms can only market and sell cigarettes in packaging of a standard design thanks to regulations drawn up after years of lobbying by the BMA and other health experts.

Doctors have long campaigned for measures to diminish the marketing power of the tobacco industry and boost the impact of health warnings.

While the regulations became law last year, the industry was given a year to sell off old stock.

BMA board of science chair Parveen Kumar said doctors would not now rest in their fight for tougher tobacco control.

‘We know that children who recognise brand images including packaging are far more likely to start smoking. Standardised packaging will help to eradicate this marketing power for tobacco companies, and will increase the impact of health warnings,’ she added. ‘But we mustn’t stop here.’

‘Doctors want to see a tobacco-free society by 2035, and the BMA is calling on the next Government to introduce a new “Tobacco Control Plan”, replacing the current, outdated strategy on smoking, and a “polluter-pays” levy on  tobacco companies.

‘This would generate funding to support smoking-cessation programmes, and would see many more smokers kicking the habit.’

The last control plan, published under the former coalition administration in 2011, ran out in 2015.

Under the polluter-pays levy, quit-smoking services would be funded by the tobacco industry.

As reported in BMA News, several councils have axed such services as they struggle to cope with the Government-imposed cuts to their budgets.

The BMA is calling for politicians to make public health a focus of their election campaigns.

Read the BMA’s briefing on it public health manifesto

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