Bucks’ Director of Public Health has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it is set to introduce regulations to provide plain packaging on tobacco products.
The Government announcement follows an independent review by Sir Cyril Chantler which concluded that branded packaging plays an important role in encouraging young people to smoke, and that it is highly likely that plain packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking.
It also concludes that plain packaging is likely to lead to a modest but important reduction in smoking and therefore has a positive impact on public health.
Dr Jane O’Grady, Director of Public Health for Buckinghamshire welcomed the news saying: “This is definitely a positive move in reducing the harm caused by tobacco.
“Smoking kills around 600 people in Buckinghamshire every year, but in addition many smokers end up suffering long term debilitating illnesses such as emphysema or strokes.
“To stop the harm caused by smoking we need to both help current smokers to quit and reduce the number of new smokers entering the market.
“We know that the vast majority of smokers want to quit and we also know that two thirds of smokers become addicted before they are 18.
“In Buckinghamshire it is estimated that more than 1,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15 are regular smokers and approximately 3,500 children try smoking each year.
“As a nation we should consider every effective measure we can to stop children taking up smoking in the first place, and the evidence shows that plain packaging is a good move in that direction.”
Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board submitted a response in favour of plain packaging to a government led public consultation in 2012.
Patricia Birchley, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board said: “We are committed to improving the health of Buckinghamshire residents by reducing the numbers of smokers in our county.
“We believe that reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products by introducing plain packaging will help people make healthy choices when it comes to smoking.”
In order to ensure that the decision is properly and fully informed, the Department of Health intends to run a final short consultation, the results of which should be published by the end of April.