CIEH welcomes government vote on plain packaging for tobacco products
The CIEH welcomes the government announcement that it will put regulations on the standardised plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products to a vote in Parliament before the general election.
The move to prevent cigarettes being sold in branded packaging is seen as helping protect the next generation of children and young people from starting to smoke. Two thirds of current smokers started when children, and half of all lifetime smokers will die from smoking related disease.
The CIEH’s Chief Executive Graham Jukes had added the organisation’s name to Smokefree Action’s letter to David Cameron insisting that regulations on standardised tobacco packaging must be voted on before the next general election.
The letter, dated 13 January, addressed to the Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, was written on behalf of an alliance of over 250 organisations committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco that strongly supports standardised packaging of all tobacco products.
Primary legislation enabling the introduction of standardised packaging was passed with overwhelming support in both Houses of Parliament and received royal assent on 13 March 2014, but a vote on the necessary regulations will only be possible before the general election if the government tables them imminently.
CIEH principal policy officer, Ian Gray, said: ‘The approach to all of our tobacco control measures has been firmly based on sound evidence of direct benefits to public health. This fact ensures the public acceptance of such measures, especially when the purpose is to protect the health of our children.’
Speaking at last night’s adjournment debate in the House of Commons Jane Ellison, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, said: ‘Legislation will not solve all the problems relating to tobacco. Effective tobacco control depends not just on government action; local authorities also have a key role. We see a wide variation between the levels of smoking in our nation and we see that the policy of local action has been vindicated. Local authorities, supported by Public Health England, can advise on effective local action and share experience of what works.’
Graham Jukes CIEH Chief Executive said: ‘CIEH has been very supportive of the ASH lead campaign to achieve a political consensus around the commitments given on plain packaging and smoke free vehicles. It still has to be achieved but last night’s commitment by the government is a major step forward in continuing the fight for reductions in smoking’.
The Members of the Smokefree Alliance include the CIEH, health charities, local authorities, Royal Colleges, public health organisations and local NHS organisations. Other signatories included Deborah Arnott from Action on Smoking and Health, Professor John Ashton from the Faculty of Public Health and Dr Mark Porter from the British Medical Association.