The U.K. plans to pass a bill that would force all tobacco producers to deliver their products in standardized packaging. The British lawmakers hope that the move would discourage taking up smoking at early age since the consumers won’t have a distinct brand to identify themselves with.
If the new law passes, the U.K. will become the second country in the world to adopt the measure. The MPs and addiction experts claim that the new method of packaging cigarettes would save lives by lowering the number of people who take up smoking each year.
A recent study published in the journal Addiction suggest that preventing only one people in 20 from taking up smoking may save 2,000 additional lives every year.
The U.K. lawmakers will vote in March, and if the bill passes the new measures would come into effect next year. The law will affect England, while Ireland and Wales will each decide whether to bring some changes to the law or adopt it as it is.
But tobacco industry claims that the move is unnecessary since in Australia, the first country in the world to adopt standardized cigarette packaging, there wasn’t any visible beneficial effect. On the contrary, the number of people taking up smoking continued to increase.
The new law will force tobacco producers to package their products in packs of the same size, age and color, regardless of the brand. The move, known as “plain packaging” is expected to have a stronger psychological impact on smokers than large sized health warnings. The brand name would also be typed in a standardized front.
The lawmakers both in the U.K. and Australia based their decision on a series of studies which had shown that standardized packaging was highly discouraging the habit of smoking even in current smokers.
The studies also revealed that size, shape, and opening method of a cigarette pack increase sales, while in Australia fewer people displayed cigarette packs in public spaces after the standardized packaging law came into effect.
Also, according to the same studies, removing a brand’s distinctive marks from the package resulted in occasional smokers being more aware of the health warnings. Additionally, plain packaging was more effective than health warnings in lowering the rate of taking up smoking in young people.
“All the pieces are building the same picture, which is that it is going to have a reduction, none of the studies are pointing in the other direction.”
argued Prof Robert West, editor in chief of the journal Addiction.
Image Source: Quit Smoking Today 7