The government is seeking views on whether packs of cigarettes and rolling tobacco should contain inserts aimed to encourage quitting, as part of a new consultation launched today.
The pack inserts, which are already used internationally, promote smoking cessation with positive messages to encourage quitting and to signpost smokers to advice and support.
Such messages would also set out the benefits of quitting smoking, as well as pointing how much money the average smoker could save by giving up.
Chief executive of Action on Smoking Debora Arnott said that pack inserts support quitting by ‘backing up the grim messages about death and disease on the outside with the best advice about how to quit on the inside’.
Ms Arnott claimed that this would ‘help deliver not just the smokefree 2030 ambition, but also the major conditions strategy, as smoking is responsible for all six major conditions’.
Although smoking rates in the UK are at an all time low, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) claims that pursuing further action will cut waiting lists and reduce pressure on the NHS.
The DHSC estimates that including pack inserts within all tobacco products in the UK could lead to an additional 30,000 smokers giving up the habit and producing health benefits worth an estimated £1.6bn.
Similar pack inserts are already in use overseas, with Israel and Canada including them in tobacco products, and Australia recently announcing its intention to include them as well.
An evaluation of the impact of pack inserts in Canada found that almost a third of smokers had read the inserts at least once in the last month, and those who2 did so were more likely to give up smoking.
The announcement of the policy consultation comes amid a wider governmental push to address the ‘key risk factors and lifestyle drivers of ill-health and disease’.
A recent package of funding introduced more measures intended to reach the target of reducing smoking rates to less than 5% of the population by 2030.
The consultation has also been timed to coincide with the release of an initial report of the government’s major condition strategy, expected to be published today.
Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said that smoking places ‘a huge burden on the NHS, economy and individuals’ while also costing the economy ‘billions every year in lost productivity’.
Mr Barclay said: ‘By taking action to reduce smoking rates and pursuing our ambition to be smokefree by 2030, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS and help people to live healthier lives.’
The consultation opens today (August 14) until October and will seek views on the implementation and design of pack inserts.