RSPH has welcomed the full and final implementation of mandatory plain packaging of cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco.

The legislation came into force in May 2016, with a one-year transitional period to allow for sale of old stock coming to an end at midnight on Friday 19 May 2017.

The new packs are a drab green, with larger health warnings and standardised fonts – requirements that all cigarette brands must adhere to.

The UK is only the second country in the world, after Australia, to pass such legislation and already there is growing evidence that not only does plain packaging encourage more smokers to try and quit, it also makes cigarette packs much less appealing to young people.

The regulations coming into force also include:

  • Cigarettes to be sold in packs of a minimum of 20 sticks, and Hand Rolling Tobacco in a minimum of 30g packets
  • A ban on the sale of flavoured tobacco products (except menthol, which will be phased out by 2020)
  • New standards for the safety and quality of electronic cigarette products, including a maximum nicotine concentration of 20mg/ml, and a maximum tank size of 10ml

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH, said: “The tobacco industry has always relied on pack design to promote their products and appeal to young people, which is why it has fought this legislation tooth and nail from start to finish. The switch to plain packaging is vital to removing the power of brands in cigarette marketing, and is a powerful positive step for the public’s health.

“It is thanks to decades of dedication to effective policy-making like this that the UK has topped the European league table for tobacco control for the fourth year running, and boasts some of the fastest declining smoking rates in the world.

“We’re delighted with the progress made in the UK on tightening tobacco control, but it must not be ignored that tobacco companies are now increasingly turning their sights to Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), where regulatory frameworks are not as well developed. We need to recognise tobacco control as a global priority, and continue to fight the tobacco industry on all fronts.” 

[Main image: packaging compliant with the Tobacco Products Directive and Standardised Packaging regulations; source: ASH]