The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

The Lancet blasts UK over plain packaging

Noted medical journal The Lancet has called the UK Government's decision to not implement plain packaging of cigarettes a "disgrace".

"What does the UK Government's decision say, if not that economics trumps health?" asks the journal in an editorial published on 20 July, adding, "The UK should join Australia and New Zealand in setting an example to the countries looking to strengthen their resolve against the tobacco epidemic."

Earlier this month the UK Government said it would postpone plans for plain packing until the impact of the measure in Australia was known. As of December 2012, cigarettes sold in Australia must be in plain packs – free of manufacturers' logos, colours and other brand imagery.

The New Zealand Government has also said it will implement plain packaging.

According to The Lancet, political will to implement tobacco control in general is lacking. Commenting on the release of the World Health Organization's 2013 report on the tobacco epidemic, the editorial says:

"37 countries do not dissuade cigarette use with suitable taxation, and 130 have minimal or no policies covering use of warning labels. Even in countries with nominal bans and control measures, lax enforcement and corruption eviscerates their effectiveness."

The Lancet notes that the tobacco industry "vehemently opposes" the political will needed to put in place tobacco control, especially moves to restrict advertising and sale of tobacco products. "Tobacco makes a lot of people a lot of money," says the editorial. "This mantra should be repeated often during any discussion of the epidemic of tobacco use."

Read The Lancet editorial

Read also:

Will Ireland overtake UK in tobacco control?

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