Standardised plain packaging for cigarettes is to be introduced in England, following a comprehensive review of the evidence which found unbranded packs could cut the number of children starting to smoke.

Public health minister Jane Ellison told the House of Commons that she would introduce draft regulations swiftly “so it is crystal clear what is intended” although there will be a short consultation.

Sir Cyril Chantler, who was asked to look at the potential benefits, particularly to children, of plain packaging after the government postponed a decision last summer, made “a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced, it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health,” Ellison said.

The government’s decision to delay last year provoked a political storm, because of revelations that a lobbying company owned by David Cameron’s election adviser, Lynton Crosby, had helped the tobacco industry fight the introduction of plain packaging in Australia.

The Chantler review found that standardised packaging which in Australia involves the entire packet being taken up by graphic health warnings is likely to contribute to a modest but important reduction in smoking, including a drop in the number of children who start.

“There is very strong evidence that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion increases the likelihood of children taking up smoking,” says the report.

“Industry documents show that tobacco packaging has for decades been designed, in the light of market research, with regard to what appeals to target groups. Branded cigarettes are ‘badge’ products, frequently on display, which therefore act as a ‘silent salesman’.

“Tobacco packages appear to be especially important as a means of communicating brand imagery in countries like Australia and the UK which have comprehensive bans on advertising and promotion. It is notable that Japan Tobacco International responded to the decision to introduce tobacco plain packaging in Australia by attempting to sue the Australian government for taking possession of its mobile ‘billboard’.”

Chantler, who was once himself a smoker and found it hard to quit, said that “given the suffering that smoking causes, and the fact that most people start when they are children, even a small effect is very important”.

More than 600 children aged 11 to 15 start to smoke every day more than 200,000 a year. If that number could be cut even by 2%, said the review, 4,000 fewer would take up the habit.

“It is now for government to make its decision on whether or not to go ahead,” said Chantler. “I recognise that there is a democratic process to go through, but for my own view I hope they do introduce it, and I hope they do it quickly.”

The chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, supported plans to introduce plain packs within England’s devolved health administration. “This review only reinforces my beliefs of the public health gains to be achieved from standardised packaging,” she said.

Public health campaigners were delighted by the findings . “The Chantler review has backed a significant step towards a healthier future for the UK’s children,” said Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive. “We’re very pleased the government will now move forward and lay out draft regulations on standardised packs. This should happen as quickly as possible.

“Every day hundreds of children are lured into smoking an addiction that kills and causes at least 14 different types of cancer. Children find the brightly coloured and slick designs of today’s packs appealing.”

Professor John Wass, academic vice president of the Royal College of Physicians, said it was delighted by the news, although he added “It is disappointing that we will have to wait for the results of yet another consultation, but we hope this will be swift and not impede the introduction of regulations in this parliament. We are one step further towards a tobacco free UK.”

The tobacco industry contested the Chantler report’s findings. Daniel Torras, managing director of Japan Tobacco International UK, said “Nothing has changed since last summer when the prime minister said ‘There isn’t yet sufficient evidence for it and there is considerable legal uncertainty about it.’ The Chantler report explicitly references the ‘limitations’ of the evidence presented by a small group of tobacco control lobbyists.”

Young using e-cigarettes smoke too, study finds –

Logic electronic cigarettes – home

Middle and high school students who used electronic cigarettes were more likely to smoke real cigarettes and less likely to quit than students who did not use the devices, a new study has found. They were also more likely to smoke heavily. But experts are divided about what the findings mean.

The study s lead author, Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has been critical of the devices, said the results suggested that the use of e cigarettes was leading to less quitting, not more.

The use of e cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents, the study concluded. It was published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on Thursday.

But other experts said the data did not support that interpretation. They said that just because e cigarettes are being used by youths who smoke more and have a harder time quitting does not mean that the devices themselves are the cause of those problems. It is just as possible, they said, that young people who use the devices were heavier smokers to begin with, or would have become heavy smokers anyway.

The data in this study do not allow many of the broad conclusions that it draws, said Thomas J. Glynn, a researcher at the American Cancer Society.

The study is likely to stir the debate further over what electronic cigarettes mean for the nation s 45 million smokers, about three million of whom are middle and high school students. Some experts worry that e cigarettes are a gateway to smoking real cigarettes for young people, though most say the data is too skimpy to settle the issue. Others hope the devices could be a path to quitting.

So far, the overwhelming majority of young people who use e cigarettes also smoke real cigarettes, a large federal survey published last year found.

Still, while e cigarette use among youths doubled from 2011 to 2012, regular cigarette smoking for youths has continued to decline. The rate hit a record low in 2013 of 9.6 percent, down by two thirds from its peak in 1997.

The new study drew on broad federal survey data from more than 17,000 middle school and high school students in 2011 and more than 22,000 in 2012. But instead of following the same students over time which many experts say is crucial to determine whether there has been a progression from e cigarettes to actual smoking the study examined two different groups of students, essentially creating two snapshots.

Dr. Glantz says that his findings show that use of e cigarettes can predict who will go on to become an established smoker. Students who said they had experimented with cigarettes that is, taken at least one puff were much more likely to become established smokers if they also used e cigarettes, he said.

One of the arguments that people make for e cigarettes is that they are a way to cut down on the smoking of cigarettes, but the actual use pattern is just the opposite, he said.

But David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the Legacy Foundation, an antismoking research group, said the study s data do not support that conclusion.

I am quite certain that a survey would find that people who have used nicotine gum are much more likely to be smokers and to have trouble quitting, but that does not mean that gum is a gateway to smoking or makes it harder to quit, he said.

He argued that there were many possible reasons that students who experimented with e cigarettes were also heavier smokers for example, living in a home where people smoke, belonging to a social circle where smoking is more common, or abusing drugs or alcohol.

The study did have a bright spot Youths who used e cigarettes were more likely to plan to quit smoking. Dr. Abrams highlighted that finding, but said it was impossible to tell whether students who planned to quit actually did, because the data did not track this.