Kent County Council has welcomed today’s announcement that MPs are set to vote on plain packaging for cigarettes after a long campaign supporting the move.
It has been announced that a law introducing plain cigarette packaging in England could come into force in 2016 after ministers said MPs would be asked to vote on the plan before May’s general election.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told MPs the move was likely to have a positive impact on public health.
KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Graham Gibbens, wrote to the Under Secretary of State earlier this month, urging movement on the new law which could save thousands of lives.
He said: “We have been lobbying for some time for this law as we consider it an important initiative that will bring considerable health benefits, in particular to young people.”
Smoking prevalence in Kent is higher than the national average and is even higher among certain ethnic groups, pregnant women and routine and manual workers.
It is estimated that there are around 240,000 smokers in Kent and that smoking costs the county around £406million every year, including the £49million in direct costs to the NHS and £19.5million in social care costs.
The Chantler Review, commissioned by the Government, examined the evidence on standard packaging and found that removing tobacco branding makes cigarettes less attractive to children and is likely to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking.
Graham Gibbens added: “We are committed to reducing the avoidable cost in death, loss to the economy and cost to the health and social care system. The introduction of standard packaging would also be an important step in consolidating the Government’s commitment to public health.
“Around 5,400 young people take up smoking every year in Kent and around 13 per cent of 15-year-olds are regular smoking. Our aim is to reduce smoking prevalence among young people to one per cent by 2020 and standardised packaging would support us to achieve that.”
Notes to editors:
Kent County Council became responsible for key areas of Public Health following changes to the Health and Social Care Act in 2013. Its overriding aims are to improve and protect the health of the Kent population, and improve the quality, effectiveness and access to, health and social care services.