Plain packaging plans

23 January, 2015 / business

The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed recent announcements from both Westminster and Holyrood that plans to introduce plain packaging to tobacco products are well under way.

The UK Government has said that it will seek to lay the foundations for plain packaging by May this year, with a view to the law coming in to force by May 2016.

The BDA is a member of the Smokefree Action Coalition and a supporter of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and has long campaigned for action on plain packs.

The association’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said: “Action on plain packs is great news for the future of Britain’s oral health. As dentists we see the impact of tobacco marketing on a daily basis, in patients with gum disease and oral cancer that often could have been prevented.

“Distinctive packaging remains one of the tobacco industry’s top promotional tools, so there was never any excuse for delaying this initiative.

“In Australia, the evidence shows that plains packs are already helping make smoking less attractive. Taking the sheen off tobacco is an essential step to helping smokers break the habit, and preventing the next generation reaching for their first cigarette.”

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has welcomed the announcement and said that Scottish ministers will now work with MPs in Westminster to support the plans. She said: “Here in Scotland we have called for action on this issue for a long time, with the health secretary writing once again to the secretary of state for health last week, making our support for plain packaging absolutely clear.

“Our position has always been that this move will be an important step in tackling tobacco related disease. It is a bold step, but to build a generation free from tobacco, it is necessary to restrict the imagery and design that is used to encourage people – in particular young people – to use these addictive and lethal products.

“Tobacco use comes at great cost, not only for our NHS but also our families and communities. Each year more than 13,000 people in Scotland die as a result of tobacco use. Around the same number of young people take up smoking each year. That is why we must continue to take bold steps, such as plain packaging, to achieve our vision of a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034.

“While it has taken the UK Government a considerable period of time to follow our lead on this important issue, we now look forward to receiving the final regulations to agree and will continue to support effective regulation and implementation across Scotland and rest of UK.”

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