Hartlepool council’s leading health expert has welcomed radical changes aimed at making tobacco less glamorous.
A major change to the way tobacco is packaged is to be introduced to help deter people from smoking and to save lives.
The move follows a 25-year campaign by health action groups who felt that the often eye-catching packaging of cigarettes has glamorised smoking.
Hartlepool Council’s Director of Public Health, Louise Wallace, said the changes were intended to make smoking less appealing generally, but especially to more impressionable youngsters.
“I welcome the new legislation which is intended to reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products to consumers, particularly young people, and to increase the effectiveness of compulsory health warnings which will now form the major part of tobacco product packaging,” she said.”
From May 20, cigarettes and other tobacco products will have to be produced in packaging that has a drab olive colour, which has been considered the most off-putting to existing and potential smokers.
Tobacco is the only legal product that, when used as intended, will kill 50 per cent of its consumersLouise Wallace
Manufacturers’ brand information on the packaging will have to follow a standardised specification and there will be a compulsory increase in the size of graphically explicit health warnings.
The changes will not be introduced straightaway, however.
Manufacturers can continue selling products produced in existing packaging for a further year.
Other changes are intended to make cigarettes less attractive from an economic standpoint.
This will include requiring all cigarette packets to contain at least 20 cigarettes, outlawing the practice of having 19, 18, or even 17 cigarettes in a pack to make the shelf price appear more appealing.
The change will also spell the end of the more affordable packets of 10 cigarettes.
In addition, hand-rolling tobacco will be packaged in minimum 30 gram pouches, to ensure that purchase prices are maintained at a higher level.
Most additives and flavouring are also being removed from tobacco products with the exception of the more popular menthol which will be allowed to be produced and sold until 2020.
“Tobacco is the only legal product that, when used as intended, will kill 50 per cent of its consumers - a message that will be accentuated by the hard-hitting health warnings required on standardised packaging,” said Louise Wallace.
E-cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, will also become subject to increased regulation as part of the changes which are being implemented from May 20.
European Directive law will be implemented in the UK, with requirements to limit the strength of e-cigarattes to a maximum of 20mg of nicotine.
Increased health warnings on packaging of e-cigarettes are also being introduced.