Friday, 4 October 2013

County council supports change in cigarette packaging

Lancashire County Council has written to all north west MEPs and urged them to vote in favour of introducing a directive which would change cigarette packaging.

On Tuesday 8th October, the European Union will vote on a revised EU Tobacco Products Directive.

In a letter to the MEPs, County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, has encouraged them to vote in favour of a mandate for discussions to start on the directive between the European Parliament, Council and Commission.

The directive sets out changes to packaging designed to protect children from becoming addicted to smoking and to help smokers to quit.

These changes include:

  • Large health warning images covering 75% of the front and back of all tobacco products
  • A ban on ‘slim’ cigarettes and cigarette packs (sometimes called ‘lipstick’ or ‘perfume’ packs)
  • A ban on ‘characterising’ flavours (menthol, strawberry, vanilla)
  • Strong, independent controls against counterfeiting and the illicit trade
  • The regulation of e-cigarettes as medicines and allowance for EU member states to introduce further measures independently (e.g. plain, standardised packaging or a prohibition on internet sales)

County Councillor Azhar Ali said: "I believe these changes would really help us reduce the number of people who smoke in Lancashire if they were brought in."

"22 per cent of people smoke here in the county and that's higher than the national average."

"Each year, hundreds of thousands of children aged between 11 and 15 begin a lifelong addiction to smoking and by making packaging less attractive, and making the warnings more noticeable, we hope to reduce this number.

"We think that these measures would also help people who currently smoke to quit for good.

"Smoking remains the major cause of preventable premature death, killing 100,000 people a year nationally – more than the next six causes put together, including alcohol, obesity and illegal drugs.

"The revised Tobacco Products Directive would be vital in helping protect us and our children from the harmful effects of smoking and I'd like MEPs to vote in favour of its introduction."

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