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expert reaction to plain packaging of cigarettes and the EU tobacco products directive

New EU and UK regulations are to come into place to standardise cigarette packaging and also phase out certain pack sizes and menthol cigarettes.


On plain packaging:

Prof Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling, said:

“There are over 40 studies from a range of countries on standardised packaging of tobacco. When we reviewed this evidence for the UK government, the findings were consistent. They suggest that plainer packaging will: reduce the appeal of smoking and the pack; increase the visibility and understanding of visual health warnings on packs; and reduce confusion about the harm from tobacco that can be communicated by different colours and terms used on packaging.

“Subsequent ‘real world’ evidence from Australia, where the policy is already in place, supports the conclusions of surveys and experimental research that has been done in the UK and elsewhere. An important priority going forward will be new studies to look at the impact of the policy here, and some work has already been commissioned to look at this.”


On e-cigarettes in the EU directive:

Prof Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said:

“The new EU regulation of e-cigarettes is seriously misguided. It is hostile to e-cigarettes and puts bigger hurdles on vaping that on smoking.

“It stipulates limits on nicotine concentrations than do not apply to cigarettes, requires expensive, obscure and onerous product notifications that are not needed for cigarettes, enforces unnecessary product rules that will make vaping less user friendly and more expensive, puts enforced delays on approving new products, enforces excessive warnings including warning leaflets that are not needed for cigarettes, and includes other restrictions that favour the incumbent product.

“If this EU regulation is implemented, it will slow down the desertion from smoking to much less risky vaping. Tobacco industry executives will be pleased, but this is not good news for public health.”




Declared interests

Prof. Hajek: “I received research funding and provided consultancy for manufacturers of stop-smoking medications (nicotine replacement products and varenicline). I have no links with any e-cigarette manufacturers, my research into safety and effects of e-cigarettes is funded by MHRA, PHE, NIHR and UKCTAS.”

Prof. Bauld: None to declare

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