No more delays – we need plain packaging now

By on 28/11/2013 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser today gave a cautious welcome to a Government review into the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

But Birmingham City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing warned the time for action is now, adding: “For every day legislation is delayed, more of our children are taking up this deadly habit.”

Earlier this year, the Government put plans for plain packaging on hold, prompting Birmingham City Council to withdraw support for the public health Responsibility Deal.

Now the Government is set to announce another a further review, with reports suggesting plain packaging could be introduced by 2015.

And Cllr Bedser, who chairs Birmingham's Tobacco Control Alliance and also leads on smoking for the Local Government Association Community Wellbeing Board, insists the rethink is long overdue.

He said: “The Government must stop wasting time on this issue. After losing their nerve earlier this year, I'm glad they are finally listening to the overwhelming evidence. But we need legislation now, not another review.

“For every day legislation is delayed, another 570 children across England will take up smoking and yet there's strong evidence to show that plain or standardised packs are less appealing to young people.

“Almost 5,000 Birmingham people die every year from a smoking related disease and they are replaced by newer, younger smokers on conveyor belt of misery.

“So for the Government, this is a simple choice between the interests of our young people and those of the tobacco giants and that's no contest as far as I'm concerned.

“We need plain packaging now and I hope today's news is not going to lead to another lengthy delay.”

Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, added: “In Birmingham around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking and more are lighting up for the first time every single day.

“We need action now and plain packaging would be a huge step in the right direction - whatever the tobacco industry says.

“We must remember that the tobacco industry fought long and hard against the smoking ban, but thankfully their lobbying was ignored and the smoking ban has been a huge success.”

Smoking in Birmingham

Smoking causes significant economic burden both in terms of increased health expenditure and cost to the Birmingham economy in the form of absenteeism, working days lost and premature retirement.

Premature deaths from smoking are estimated to cost the Birmingham economy £24m each year.

In the UK the majority of smokers start before the age of 18 and in Birmingham, around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking.

In Birmingham around 1 in 5 adults smoke, equating to around 185,000 smokers.

Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.

Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham's three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:

  • 1 in 4 of all cancers,
  • 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
  • 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease

About half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. If you are a long-term smoker, on average, your life expectancy is about 10 years less than a non-smoker.

Put another way, in the UK about 8 in 10 non-smokers live past the age of 70, but only about half of long-term smokers live past 70. The younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke for longer and to die early from smoking.

Stop smoking in Birmingham

Giving up smoking is not easy but with help and support from our stop smoking service, you are up to four times more likely to stop than with will power alone.

For friendly, expert advice and support on how to quit smoking, call the Birmingham stop smoking service on 0800 052 5855 free or text ‘QUIT’ to 80800.

For more information about Stop Smoking services in Birmingham, go to:

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. David says:

    “Smoking causes significant economic burden both in terms of increased health expenditure and cost to the Birmingham economy in the form of absenteeism, working days lost and premature retirement. Premature deaths from smoking is estimated to cost the Birmingham economy £24m each year.”

    The above paragraph looks like it should be in a tabloid newspaper not a release from the council. To reference an economic cost in connection to the death of a person is disgusting no matter what subject is being discussed, especially when it is talking about a legal pastime.

    The adverse effects of smoking are well known and anyone smoking should be aware of the risks by now. If the council/government where serious about this issue then they would be discussing making smoking illegal and not talking about the packaging.

    • geoffc says:

      The paragraph you refer to is merely factual.
      We can’t speak for the Government but Birmingham City Council does not have the power to make smoking illegal. We can however support measures to cut smoking rates and minimise the risk of young people taking up the habit.
      A significant number of studies suggest plain packaging will do exactly that.