The Royal College of Psychiatrists, a member of the Smoke Free Action
Coalition congratulates the government on its new Tobacco Plan.
In advance of the launch we wrote to the government urging it to
endorse an aspirational plan including:
- strong ambitions to continue to reduce
- strengthening the control of tobacco
advertising and promotion by putting tobacco out of sight in shops
and requiring plain packaging of tobacco products
- mass media and communications work to
motivate smokers to quit and signpost sources of help
- continued funding for services to help
- further reductions in affordability of
tobacco by increasing tax above inflation and continuing to reduce
We are pleased to see that the Plan includes
these evidence-based measures for driving down smoking prevalence
including a commitment to consult on plain packaging. However, if
the Plan is to be successful in driving down smoking prevalence
then national level ambitions will have to be followed through by
implementation at local level. This Plan is a strong signal to
Council Health and Wellbeing Boards that tackling smoking needs to
be top of their agenda.
Smoking requires strong intervention by
government. It is an addiction of childhood and adolescence with
the majority of smokers taking up the habit while still under 18.
It is a highly addictive habit which many smokers find very
difficult to quit. Half of all long-term smokers die early, half of
these in middle age, with many more suffering years of disability
as a result of their habit. Smoking kills more than 80,000 people
each year in England, which is more than alcohol, obesity, road
accidents and illegal drugs put together.
While the Government has not committed to
implementing plain packaging, it has confirmed that it will launch
a consultation on this measure, which we welcome. We are, however,
disappointed to see that the government is putting back
implementation of the legislation to prohibit display of tobacco in
large shops by April 2012 and small shops by April
We urge the government to reconsider this
decision in the light of
recent allegations that campaigning against the legislation by
retailer groups is funded by the tobacco industry. There is good
evidence to show that tobacco displays encourage young people to
take up smoking.
Removing displays and putting tobacco in plain packs are both
essential if we are to protect children from these significant
remaining channels of tobacco advertising.
For further information, please
Kathy Oxtoby or
Deborah Hart in the Communications
Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is a member of the Smoke Free Action Coalition - a group of 170 organisations committed to promoting public health. The organisations came together initially to lobby for smokefree workplaces and are now committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco more generally. For more information see:
The RCPsych is also one of the organisations to have signed a letter to MPs urging them to support the tobacco point of sale legislation.