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UK follows Australia’s lead on plain pack smokes

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Britain has introduced plain packaging for tobacco cigarette products sold in that country.

And Oxford’s Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group says its research involving a review of more than 50 experimental studies, suggests the move will likely have a significant impact on the prevalence of smoking.

Experts from the Cochrane Review say plain packaging appears to diminish the appeal of tobacco and help reduce the practice of smoking.

Some of that evidence comes from observing the Australian experience. In 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to implement standardised packaging of tobacco products, when the then Labor Government successfully enacted plain packaging legislation.

Data collected since then shows the measure has resulted in an extra 0.5 percent a year decline smoking numbers.

“We are not able to say for sure what the impact would be in the UK, but if the same magnitude of decrease was seen as was observed in Australia, this would translate to roughly 300,000 fewer (UK) smokers,” said Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, a Cochrane Review researcher.

British legislation on plain packaging for tobacco came into full effect from May this year.

Cigarette packs must have a uniform colour and font and carry no logos apart from health warnings.

The Cochrane team analysed 51 studies.

“Our evidence suggests standardised packaging can change attitudes and beliefs about smoking,” Mr Hartmann-Boyce said.

“And the evidence we have so far suggests that standardised packaging may reduce smoking prevalence and increase quit attempts.”

Chris Johnson