UCL Science, Medicine & Society Network
on the motion:
‘This house believes plain, standardised packaging will benefit the health of the nation’
Roberts G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre,
Roberts Building, Torrington Place,
University College London
Monday 29th April
(Doors: from 6.00pm)
Professor David Napier, University College London
Chair: Dame Helena Shovelton, DBE
Prof. Robert West, University College London
Rt Hon Kevin Baron MP
Bob Blackman MP
Ian Paisley, Minister, Northern Ireland
Claire Fox, Institute of Ideas, UK
The smoking ban in public places and business came into force in Scotland on March 26th 2006; Wales on April 2nd; and Northern Ireland on April 30th. Englandenforced the ban a year later on July 1st 2007.
Since the introduction of the ban, there has been a significant reduction in the number of smoking related hospital admissions for heart attacks, stroke and respiratory disease. These findings have been reiterated in many international studies. Smoking bans have been widely hailed as successful at improving health around the world. The Point of Sale Display Ban (POSD) was also introduced in England on 6 April 2012 making it illegal to display tobacco products at the point of sale in large stores, and in small stores from 6 April 2015.
Many people think that now we have a smoking ban in public areas, this means the war on smoking has been won. However health campaigners are now pressing for plain packaging of cigarettes. They strongly believe this will reduce the number of children from starting to smoke by reducing the industry’s advantage over young people’s susceptibility to attractive packaging.
The Australian Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 requires all tobacco products sold in Australia to have plain packaging. New Zealand has announced similar plans. Despite strong opposition, we are yet to assess the impact of this measure. There is speculation that these measures may be announced in the Queen’s speech at the next state opening of parliament on 8 May 2013. However, some campaigners argue that it is an infringement of civil liberty and sets a precedent against an individual’s freedoms and rights to choice. Is this a road for the United Kingdom to go down and what does it mean for society?