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Tougher restrictions on tobacco products

Plain cigarette packets with no branding or logos, minimum pack sizes of 20 and a ban on the advertising of cigarette papers are just some of the ideas up for discussion in a move to reduce the number of people who smoke.

The new Department of Health consultation document "The Future of Tobacco Control" aims to start a debate around further measures that would stop people smoking and prevent young people starting to smoke.

The ideas and proposals in the consultation include:

  • Removing branding and logos from all tobacco packaging.
  • Having a minimum pack size of 20 to stop young people who can only afford packs of 10 buying cigarettes.
  • Restricting access to cigarette vending machines by young people - whether by banning vending machines altogether or through systems that only allow adult purchase.
  • Restricting the display of tobacco products in shops. which may include putting cigarettes under the counter.
  • Banning the advertising of smoking paraphernalia, such as cigarette papers.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Protecting children from smoking is a government priority and taking away temptation is one way to do this. If banning brightly coloured packets, removing cigarettes from display, and removing the cheap option of a pack of 10 helps save lives, then that is what we should do - but we want to hear everyone's views first.

Recent smoking stats show a 2% drop in smokers in Britain (22% down from 24%) and since the introduction of the smokefree legislation in July 07, an increase of 28% in quit attempts using NHS Stop Smoking Services.

The estimated cost to the NHS of treating smoke-related illness is between £1.4 and £1.7bn per year.

Department of Health