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Smokers and vapers face new regulations

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
extinguished cigarette

19th April 2017 – Smokers and people using e-cigarettes ( electronic cigarettes) face changes in regulations next month.

From the 21st May, all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco the UK must be sold in standardised, plain packaging in accordance with domestic legislation.

Meanwhile, EU rules that come into force at the same time will require tobacco manufacturers to print larger health warnings and stop sales of 10-pack cigarettes.

The tightened regulations are designed to cut the number of young people taking up smoking and encourage adult smokers to quit.

Cigarette standardised packs

The changes, which began to be phased in last year, will mean that:

  • Text and picture health warnings along with advice on quitting smoking will cover 65% of the front and back of packs
  • Health warnings will appear at the top and side of packs
  • Brand names will be in standard type face, colour and size
  • A standardised shape, colour and method of opening the packet
  • A 'duty paid' stamp to show that the pack is not counterfeit
  • Cigarette packs are standardised in size and colour
  • An end to cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco with characterising flavours, such as fruits or chocolate, although menthol tobacco and cigarettes won't be prohibited until May 2020
  • A minimum pack size of 20 cigarettes and 30 grams for hand rolled tobacco

Leading tobacco manufacturers mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to the changes. And The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, which was not a party in the case, said it was disappointed with the outcome.

In May last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that the challenge was without foundation.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), is not anticipating overnight results, but says indications are that the changes will curb smoking in young people. "We would expect to see an effect on young people's uptake over time," she says.

Ms Cheeseman points to the example of Australia, which led the way in standardised packaging around the world. "In Australia, there are some good early indications that removing the branding is having the effect desired," she tells us.


New regulations governing the sale of e-cigarettes are also coming into effect next month.

These include:

  • Products containing over 20mg per ml of nicotine will need to have a medicinal licence
  • An end to the advertising, promotion or sponsorship of electronic cigarettes and re-fill containers on the internet, TV and radio
  • A requirement to make products child and tamper proof
  • Ensuring that packaging includes a health warning covering 30% of the surface
  • A statement saying: 'This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance'
  • Information on the product's nicotine content to be declared on the label
Reviewed on April 19, 2017

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