Victory for child health as Commons approves standard packs law & end of smoking in cars with children

Monday 10 February 2014

MPs and health campaigners are celebrating a major Parliamentary victory today, after the House of Commons backed new legislation to help prevent children from starting to smoke and protect them from secondhand smoke.

Today, the House of Commons agreed a raft of Lords amendments to the Children and Families Bill, to give the Health Secretary the power to bring in Regulations:

• Requiring cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in standardised (“plain”) packaging
• Making it an offence to smoke in cars where children under 18 are present.
• Age of sale of 18 for e-cigarettes.

The Bill also includes an amendment prohibiting proxy purchasing of tobacco.

Standardised packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products is intended to make starting to smoke less attractive to children and young people. Among existing adult smokers, two thirds report that they began to smoke before the age of 18, and almost two fifths before the age of 16. Standard packs will have no tobacco branding apart from the name of the product in a simple typeface, and will be covered in written and graphic health warnings and advice on quitting (see picture of Australian standard packs below: please note that standard packs are NOT plain white packs).

In a 2010 survey about one child in five reported often being exposed to smoking in cars. Children are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke as they have smaller lungs and less developed immune systems. Smoke in cars is particularly dangerous, as children are confined and smoke concentration often reaches very high levels.

Paul Burstow MP (Lib Dem, Sutton and Cheam), chair of the All Party Group on Smoking and Health, said:

“This is the most important step forwards for tobacco control since the end of smoking in workplaces in 2006. A powerful cross-Party campaign in both the Commons and Lords has triumphed over a well-funded and mendacious campaign by the tobacco industry and its front groups. Children will be protected from tobacco industry marketing and from smoking in cars. The regulations to put these new powers into effect cannot come soon enough.”

Bob Blackman MP (Con, Harrow East), Secretary of the APPG said:

“I am proud to have been able to work with colleagues from all Parties in the Commons to win this great victory for child protection and public health. Stopping children from starting to smoke should not be a Party issue. It should be the common concern of everybody who wants to see the next generation grow up without the terrible toll of death and disease that comes from smoking”.

Kevin Barron MP (Lab, Rother Valley), APPG Vice Chair said:

“This has been a good day for Parliament, and a great day for the health of children across the UK. The cause of tobacco control has brought together politicians from across the Commons and Lords to press the Government into taking action. Today we have helped ensure that children will not be exposed to other people’s smoke when in private cars, and that they will be
protected from tobacco industry marketing. These are votes of which every MP and Peer involved in this campaign can be proud.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, added:

“I congratulate parliamentarians from all Parties and the crossbenches in both Houses of Parliament. This campaign could not have been won without their persistence and their willingness to work across Party lines to force the Government to act. I also would like to thank all those organisations, healthcare professionals and members of the public who worked so hard to make standardised tobacco packaging and the ending of smoking in cars a reality.”



Australian standard packs