MP Julian Huppert marked the successful culmination of his campaign for plain cigarette packaging yesterday (Wednesday, March 11) when the issue returned to Parliament and won the backing of MPs.
The vote means from next year every packet of cigarettes will look the same apart from the make and brand name.
It follows a sustained campaign by Julian who has been lobbying the government to ban tobacco companies from using brightly coloured cigarette packaging.
He raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions and during a Westminster debate on the issue because he was worried the packets entice young children to smoke and get hooked on highly addictive nicotine.
“This issue is so important if we are to stop future generations of young people becoming addicted to nicotine with all the health issues that brings and the strain it puts on our health services,” said Julian.
“It had divided opinion across Parliament but at last common sense has prevailed. Cigarette packing was the final legal form of advertising open to tobacco companies but stopping it will protect future generations.
“I respect a person’s right to choose to smoke but the decision needs to be taken as an adult and not as a child.”
Julian voted for powers in the Children and Families Act to allow the government to proceed with plain packaging regulations.
Evidence suggests that children are more likely to be attracted to colourful packaging than plain packaging.
Figures from the British Heart Foundation show that two thirds of current smokers started before the age of 18 and more than 200,000 children and young people in England started smoking in 2011.
Every year more than 100,000 smokers in the UK die from smoking related causes, including around 22,000 smoking-related deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Smoking is a major risk factor for CHD, and smokers are almost twice as likely to have a fatal heart attack as non-smokers.