Announced in May 2016, the Department of Health’s (DH) new tobacco packaging guidelines gave the tobacco industry 12 months to align their products with the following regulations:
The government, specifically the DH, is hoping that the new regulations will reduce the number of UK smokers.
According to a review by Cochrane UK (@CochraneUK) of 51 studies into how similar regulations have reduced smoking in other countries, there could be 0.5% drop in the number of smokers due to the new packaging laws by next year.
The ONS found that, in 2016, 15.8% of the UK adult population smoked, which equates to around 7.6 million people. A 0.5% drop, then, could see about 38,000 people quitting.
‘Evaluating the impact of standardised packaging on smoking behaviour is difficult to do but the evidence available to us, whilst limited at this time, indicates that standardised packaging may reduce smoking prevalence,’ said Professor Ann Mc Neill, from King’s College London, lead author of this Cochrane review and Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.
However, according to a tobacco industry whistleblower, ‘nobody really expects it to work’. In fact, a report from the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association claimed that, ‘abolishing small packs is counterproductive for those who want to give up smoking’.
‘The possibility of getting lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems and other illnesses is increased by smoking,’ explains a spokesperson at LV=.
According to a number of studies, many of which are cited on the Cancer Research UK website, tobacco use is the biggest avoidable cause of cancer. The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, lists heart disease and stroke as potential consequences of smoking.
If you already have a health problem, smoking can make it worse.
‘The risk of smoking is increased further when combined with other medical conditions, like cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, heart disease or respiratory conditions,’ LV= adds.