Plain cigarette packaging with bigger health warnings spotted in Oxfordshire

New standardised packaging for cigarettes has been spotted in Oxfordshire just six months after new laws were set to regulate them.

In May the UK became the second country, after Australia, to adopt standardised packaging and gave all tobacco manufacturers up to a year to switch to uniform, dark green packs with bigger health warnings and prominent graphic pictures. The packaging is designed to make starting smoking less appealing, and help improve quit rates.

Standardised packaging was introduced in Australia in 2012 and the post-implementation review published by the Australian Government in March 2016 showed a decline in the volume of tobacco sales and an overall decline in smoking prevalence. It is hoped that standardised packaging in the UK will have a similar effect.

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “We welcome the introduction of plain packaging and hope to see the numbers of people taking up smoking in Oxfordshire drop in the months to come, especially among younger people.

“We also hope that the hard-hitting warnings and unappealing photographs on the packaging will encourage people that do smoke to think about the health implications, and act as an incentive to quit.”

Support to quit smoking is available in Oxfordshire through SmokeFreeLife Oxfordshire, commissioned by the County Council, and also most GP practices and pharmacies. These services can provide free professional and tailored advice on how to stop smoking and access to the aids, including patches and gum, available on prescription.

Dr Naseem Mushtaq, Health Improvement Manager at SmokeFreeLife Oxfordshire, said: “SmokeFreeLife Oxfordshire are passionate about giving smokers the best possible chance to quit smoking and hope that lots of people motivated by the new packaging come and find out what we can offer by talking to our staff at our clinics across Oxfordshire.

“Not only do we directly supply free nicotine replacement therapy to clients, we also provide motivational and behavioral support to help them in their quit attempt and ultimately empower them to live a healthier lifestyle.”

Social media is being used to report sightings of the new packaging. Anyone spotting a pack can tweet an image plus its location using the hashtag #trackthepack and add to a ‘Track the Pack Map.’ To track the packs, visit http://bit.ly/TrackPack2025 or tweet to @breathe2025.