THE cost of smoking is set to soar now that the government has banned 10-packs completely, in a bid to force people to quit the harmful habit.
The cheapest packet will cost a minimum of £8.50 following the move – which came into play on May 21, 2017 and aimed to discourage younger and poorer smokers.
Getty Images The dull new design has replaced the colourful attractive branding on cigarette packs
Why are small packs of cigarettes being banned?
Smokers are no longer be able to buy smaller packs of cigarettes and rolling tobacco
Ten-packs of fags and smaller bags of roll-your-own tobacco will be banned – while menthol cigarettes will be phased out completely by May 2020.
Before the new law, rolling tobacco came in 10g and 20g packets – but soon 30g will be the smallest size.
The ban includes some flavoured tobacco and cigarettes – including fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy and vanilla.
It’s hoped the law will reduce the number of smokers across the EU by 2.4 million.
Getty Images Menthols and ‘lipstick’ packs of 10 are being axed in an effort to deter young people
Elsewhere, Canadian campaigners are calling for the legal smoking age to be raised to 21, and pregnant women being offered £260 in shopping vouchers if they quit, as experts warn smoking will kill 8 million people EVERY YEAR by 2030.
Meanwhile, vaping fans also face a new set of laws that come in later this month – placing restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids.
For e-cigarettes, tank sizes can be no more than 2ml and the nicotine strength of liquids to no more than 20mg/ml.
Retailers are also required to place a 30 per cent health warning on the front and back reading: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.”
Getty Images The new packs will feature the product name in standard font on the front below a huge health warning
When will the law come into force?
Technically, the law came into force on May 20 2016.
However, companies were given a 12-month grace period to sell their old packs and bring in standardised packaging.
From May 21 this year, anyone caught selling non-plain packs will face severe penalties.
Why do all cigarette boxes now have plain packaging?
The aim of the laws are simple – to cut the number of people taking up smoking by making it less appealing to children and young people.
Tobacco products have already been hidden under the counter, and now they are losing their colourful branding.
According to Cancer Research, two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 – the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to two in three long-term smokers.
The cigarette companies will be stripped of their branding, with boxes only displaying graphic images of smoking-related illnesses.
Getty Images Two-thirds of smokers start before they are 18, according to Cancer Research
Several studies have shown standard packs change attitudes and beliefs around smoking by reducing its appeal and making health warnings more prominent.
It is also believed to stem myths that some lighter-coloured packs are less harmful as they contain lower tar.
Standard packs also appear to be supported by most members of the public, with a survey by YouGov in January 2015 revealing 72 per cent support for standard packs compared to just 15 per cent against.
Getty Images Smoking rates have declined in Australia after packs were introduced in 2012
Has the new cigarette packaging been introduced anywhere else?
Australia has had standardised packs since December 2012, and figures suggest smoking has declined since then.
The number of daily smokers is reported to have fallen by 3 per cent since 2010 to just 13 per cent of the population.
France has also banned branded packs, with laws coming into force on January 1.
Getty Images Plain packs on the shelf in France, where laws officially came into force on January 1
What will new plain cigarette packs look like?
All packs will be a single colour “opaque couche” – a muddy green – described as the world’s ugliest colour.
Brand names will be written in standard font, size and location on the pack, with health warnings covering at least 65 per cent of the box, on the front, back and top.
And there will be no side-sliding packs.
How have tobacco companies reacted?
Four of the world’s biggest tobacco firms launched a last-ditch legal bid against the move, but it failed.
They claimed the new regulations violated several UK and EU laws and would destroy their property rights by making products indistinguishable from each other.
They also claimed there was a lack of evidence that plain packaging would deter smokers.
Smokers’ rights group Forest also said the new rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.
Getty Images Tobacco companies claim the new laws violate their rights as they make products indistinguishable from each other
Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International appealed the laws in the High Court last year.
But Mr Justice Green dismissed all their grounds, saying: “The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence.”
The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association’s research on the British public’s response to the ban
· There was a 14.5% increase in smokers buying packs of 20 cigarettes from illicit sources and abroad;
· Smokers buying larger packs of hand rolling tobacco from illicit sources and abroad almost doubled with a 91.7% increase;
· There was a 31.6% increase in smokers buying online from social media and websites advertising cheap illegal tobacco;
· There was a 22.1% increase in smokers buying any tobacco product from abroad, thereby avoiding UK duty;
· In the final wave of the survey, the average price paid for a pack of 20 cigarettes from an illegal supplier was £5.96 – £1.39 less than the £7.35 sum which the government has used to set the minimum excise tax on a packet of 20 cigarettes.
How have the British public reacted?
In the weeks leading up to the cigarette ban, research showed that the new legislation was already driving people to buy cheap, black market tobacco.
Consumers have been questioned over the last five months as the new measures were being phased in, with the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) tracking the impacts.
Their research found that there was an increase in people buying from non-UK duty paid sources.
What’s the latest news?
The legal age to buy cigarettes in the UK could be raised from 18 to 21 as part of efforts to deliver a “smoke-free generation”, MPs have said.
New measures put forward by parliamentarians also include charging tobacco giants for the impact they have on society and using the money to fund stop-smoking initiatives.
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