Plain packaging news welcomed in Birmingham

By on 03/04/2014 in Cllr Bedser, News

Birmingham health bosses today welcomed the news that the Government looks set to press ahead with plain packaging for cigarettes.

Health Minister Jane Ellison made the announcement after a detailed independent review of the evidence concluded that thousands fewer children would take up smoking if the packets were unbranded and less attractive.

She told the House of Commons that the Chantler review ‘makes a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced, it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health’.

The Minister will now be publishing draft regulations for a final, ‘short consultation’.

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, who has shown strong support for plain or standardised packaging, welcomed today's announcement and urged the Government to press ahead without further delay.

He said: “I welcome today's news and will be writing to the Minister to congratulate her on a courageous decision to finally put the interests of our children before those of big business.

“The tobacco industry has been relentless in its lobbying against this move and I was extremely critical of the earlier Government U-turn on plain packaging.

“So I see today's news as a victory for public health and would urge the Government to press ahead quickly. Nine Birmingham children take up smoking every single day and I'm confident plain packaging will help us reduce that shocking and depressing statistic.”

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.

“But if we look at the Australian experience for example, there's strong evidence to show that plain or standardised packs are less appealing to young people.

“So the introduction of plain packaging will be a substantial step in the right direction as we look to help our young people avoid lives blighted by smoking related ill-health.”

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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