When it comes to tobacco packaging – it’s just plain simple

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive, ASH ScotlandSHEILA DUFFY

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive, ASH Scotland

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive, ASH Scotland

Plain tobacco packs will help young people avoid smoking.


Plain, standardised packaging makes tobacco less attractive to young people.

Every day roughly 40 young Scots become smokers.

Young people can take action now to ensure plain packs are introduced as soon as possible.


When it comes to standardised packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco, we reckon it’s plain to see why this new initiative is necessary.

Evidence shows that standardised packaging for tobacco will reduce its attractiveness, especially to young people.

Tobacco packs are one of the last ways of advertising this deadly and addictive product.

So it’s great that the Scottish Government has now confirmed it will ask people for their opinions soon on the best way to do it and then put forward legislation for plain packs in 2014-15.


The less flashy the packs are the better.

Plain packaging involves regulating the design characteristics of tobacco packaging – branding, colouring, typography, size, shape and method of opening (some packs make a satisfying clicking noise when the lid is flipped).

Tobacco products sold in standardised packaging would have the same type of lettering used for all brand names so they don’t stand out too much.


Example of plain packaging

Example of plain packaging

Large picture health warnings and consumer information would cover most of the pack area. The strong images show the horrific effects of smoking – cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, stroke and many more.

As well as being off-putting to potential new recruits to smoking, the packs reduce mistaken ideas about brands,  such as the myth that cigarettes in lighter packaging are less harmful.

Plain packs also increase the prominence and effectiveness of health warnings.

This deprives tobacco companies of one of their last, very powerful, marketing tools to promote their products.

Plain packs are already being used in Australia and the early evidence is that smokers who buy standardised packs are more likely to think about quitting and give a higher priority to stopping smoking.


We need plain packaging here too, because two-thirds of smokers start before they are 18 and the vast majority while still teenagers. Every day around 40 young Scots take up the habit.

That’s why we’re calling on young people around Scotland to make the politicians aware that they support the introduction of plain packs.

Young people can email their MSP to let him or her know that they are in favour of this crucial initiative and that politicians shouldn’t be put off by the tobacco industry trying to convince them not to do it.

And they can chat to their friends about how the tobacco companies try to recruit new smokers using tactics such as pack design and marketing.


The introduction of legislation to make standardised packaging mandatory for all tobacco products will cement Scotland’s position as a leader in tobacco-free measures – not only by becoming the first nation in the UK and potentially in the European Union to do so, but also one of the first in the world.

And it will help achieve Scotland’s commitment to be a nation free from tobacco by 2034.

Let’s aim to make plain packs a reality soon.


ASH Scotland’s plain packaging briefing: www.ashscotland.org.uk/media/4459/plainpackaging_briefing_Feb2012.pdf

Scotland is committed to introducing plain tobacco packaging to deter young people from taking up smoking. It’s vital that standardised packs are brought in as soon as possible. This is an excellent theme to get young people talking about how the tobacco industry tries to recruit new smokers. More information here: www.ashscotland.org.uk/what-we-do/campaign/plain-packaging-campaign.aspx


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