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Plain packaging makes smokers want to quit

Smokers who use standardised packaging think their cigarettes are “less satisfying” and are more likely to want to quit new research has revealed. 

Plans to implement plain packaging in the UK were delayed last week while ministers assessed the impact of the scheme in Australia. 

Australia is the first country to introduce the measures, which mean all cigarettes are supplied in a plain brown packet with large graphic warnings. 

Health campaigners say the research, published in online journal BMJ Open, confirms what they already know. 

Almost three out of four (72%) of the 536 interviewees from the Australian state of Victoria were smoking cigarettes from plain packs, while the remainder were using branded packs with smaller health warnings. 

The research showed that 81% of smokers using plain packs are more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day during the previous week. 

Although those using plain packs did not think tobacco was more harmful than those who used branded packs, 66% believed the tobacco was of poorer quality and 70% found them “less satisfying”. 

Kate Alley, Cancer Research UK's tobacco policy manager, said: "This new evidence from Australia confirms what we already know, selling cigarettes in standardised packs makes smoking less appealing and encourages smokers to quit.

"When cigarettes aren't disguised by flashy packaging and carefully crafted branding, smokers see them for what they are - a lethal product which kills half of its long term users.”

Cancer Research UK has called on the government to “stop stalling” and introduce standardised packs in the UK as soon as possible.

Simon Gillespie, British Heart Foundation chief executive, said: “This is yet more evidence for the UK Government that standardised cigarette packs work in discouraging smoking.

“These are clear-cut findings about how existing smokers have reacted to the changes in Australia. Westminster has absolutely no excuse for delaying legislation to introduce standardised packaging.”