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Plain Cigarette Packaging Another Step Closer

Plain-packsTen years after the ban on smoking in public places in Scotland, plain packaging on cigarette packets could be mandatory by May next year thanks to Glasgow North MP Ann McKechin.

 

 

Ann held an adjournment debate on Wednesday 21st  January to pressure the Government into publicly committing to introduce logo-free packaging across the UK. Ann last night congratulated ASH, The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and many other organisations who campaigned so hard for plain packaging on cigarettes, and said she was delighted to help them.

 

She said the need for the debate was simple because plain packaging works. Ann said, “Too many people suffer from diseases brought on by smoking, and too many young people are picking up the habit for the issue to be ignored until after the election – sadly my own city, Glasgow has one of the worst records for smoking related premature deaths in the country. Of those who take up smoking, only about half will manage to stop before they die. And two thirds of current smokers started before they were 18 years old – so the early teenage years are the key period to hook people into the habit.”

 

Ann was also concerned about the cost to patients, their families and the NHS. In Glasgow, according to the latest Scottish Public Health Observatory’s Tobacco Control Profile, there were over 1,900 deaths from lung cancer in 2012 and almost 47,000 smoking attributable hospital admissions over that year. Almost 28% of the city’s population smokes against a national average in Scotland of 23%. Ann believes “Even a small percentage drop in those figures would make a really big difference to a lot of people, save lives and alleviate the pressure on our health services.”

 

In Australia, where plain packaging legislation was introduced in 2012 and generic packaging before that, smoking rates have fallen dramatically. Daily smoking levels are at a historic low of 12.8%, and the average number of cigarettes smoked is now just 96 per week compared to 111 in 2010. Fewer young people are trying cigarettes in Australia, and those who still do are older than in the past. Opposition to plain packaging amongst the public also fell steeply after it became law.

Ann requested during the debate for the Prime Minister to listen to health professionals, 4000 of whom signed an open letter to the Guardian demanding urgent action, and ignore the protestations of his Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby, whose tobacco-industry links are said to have hindered the push for plain packaging in 2012.

Ann said, “Too many people are needlessly dying prematurely because of smoking and too many young people are still being hooked – let’s use the next few weeks to save lives and reduce the burden on our NHS.”