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07/09/13 00:00

Tobacco plain packaging

Scottish Government to press ahead with plans.

The Scottish Government is pressing ahead with plans to introduce tobacco plain packaging, with a consultation on next steps planned early next year.

Legislation on tobacco packaging in Scotland is a key action in the Scottish Government’s Tobacco Control Strategy, Creating a Tobacco – Free Generation, following a UK-wide consultation on the principles of plain packaging last year.

After the commitment was reaffirmed in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government document, Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson has pledged to push ahead and be ready to consult on detail within months.

Mr Matheson said:

“Unlike the UK Government, we will not back away from this important measure to help protect our young people from becoming the smokers of tomorrow.

“We will consult on the next steps in the coming months after which we will look to introduce legislation in 2014-15.

“Introducing plain packaging will make an important contribution to our efforts to reduce smoking prevalence and achieve our target of a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034.

“The evidence is clear, plain packaging is an effective way to prevent the uptake of smoking among young people which is key to achieving our vision.”

Scotland’s latest confirmation of its commitment to introduce plain packaging has not only received support from our partners in the Scottish Coalition On Tobacco but also from countries worldwide.

ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said:

“Scotland is again providing leadership on a world stage as we did with smoke-free legislation. To build a generation free from tobacco it is necessary to close down the deceitful imagery and design tricks that tobacco companies use to snare children into experimenting with these addictive and lethal products.

“Internationally Scotland's announcement has been widely welcomed as an inspiration to other countries considering similar legislation.”

Senior Policy Analyst Rob Cunningham from the Canadian Cancer Society said:

“Scotland deserves tremendous praise for moving forward on plain and standardized packaging of tobacco products, a key measure to reduce youth smoking and improve public health.

“Scotland is again demonstrating international leadership, as Scotland has previously done when adopting legislation 100% smoke-free legislation, as well as legislation to prohibit visible tobacco displays at retail. Scotland’s implementation of plain and standardized packaging will once more be an example for governments worldwide.”

The Norwegian Cancer Society said:

“It is wonderful news that Scotland will take forward standardised tobacco packaging. We fully support your commitment to see this legislation through, which when implemented will first of all prevent the tobacco industry from targeting children with sophisticated and slick designs. Evidence shows that plain packaging reduces the appeal of smoking, especially among young people.

“Scotland’s efforts will encourage other countries like Norway who are considering similar legislation.”

Australia was the first country to introduce plain packaging for tobacco in December last year. Further evidence is now emerging demonstrating the positive impact of this important public health measure post-implemetation.

A recent study showed plain packaging is associated with lower smoking appeal, with more support for the policy and more urgency to quit among adult smokers. A separate study has also shown that the introduction of plain packaging has not increased transaction times for the sale of tobacco in shops. This counters claims by the tobacco industry that retrieval time for tobacco products would increase and incur costs for retailers.

Mr Matheson added: “I am very encouraged by the early findings coming out of Australia. These add to, and support, the wealth of existing evidence which consistently shows that plain packaging would reduce the appeal of tobacco products to consumers; would increase the effectiveness of health warnings; and would reduce the ability of packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking.

“We will, of course, continue to take account of any new evidence emerging from Australia as we move toward a consultation on the next steps in Scotland in the New Year. After that we will look to introduce legislation in 2014-15.”

Notes to editors

Links to latest Australian study, plain packaging and lower smoking appeal: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/7/e003175

Study showing introduction of plain packaging and transaction sale times: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2013/05/25/tobaccocontrol-2013-050987.abstract