Dr Nick Hopkinson from the Royal Brompton has asked us to share the letter below with you asking for help in gathering signatures for an open letter to Parliament:
“We are gathering signatures for an open letter from people who work with respiratory patients asking Parliament to support the introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products.
There is an amendment about this in the Children and Families Bill which is expected to be voted on in the week beginning 9th December.
* In the UK hundreds of children aged 11-15 start smoking for the first time every day and there is compelling evidence that children’ perceptions of cigarettes are influenced by branding. As health professionals working to prevent and treat lung disease caused by smoking, we call on members of both Houses of Parliament to support the amendment to the Children and Families Bill which introduces standardised packaging for tobacco products.
Prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship mean that cigarette packs are now the key marketing tool employed by the tobacco industry to attract and retain customers. Current tobacco packaging means cigarettes and smoking appear more appealing and distracts attention from health warnings. Packaging also misleads consumers about the harmfulness of products. Although terms like “light” and “mild” have been banned, smokers still perceive lighter coloured packs to be less hazardous. Standardised packaging will include requirements that packs are a standard drab colour and large graphic health warnings front and back. Security features, including number codes and covert anti-counterfeit marks which can be read by scanners, will be retained, so it will be no easier to counterfeit products despite claims to the contrary from the tobacco industry. Most smokers start before the age of 18 and the younger the age at which they start the greater the health risk. Parliament must take this opportunity and act now to protect children from the tobacco industry.*