Over the last 10 years there have been multiple changes to the laws surrounding cigarettes and smoking. In June 2007, smoking in any and all enclosed public space was banned, this included pubs, bars and restaurants, and this was all a consequence of the 2006 Health Act. Tobacco advertising has also been completely banned since 2005 as a way to deter people from smoking. The displaying of tobacco products in stores was banned in 2015.

Since 2007 and the banning of smoking in an enclosed public space, we have seen an increase in the number of people to give up smoking, the ban didn’t inform anyone of anything they didn’t already know, it just stopped them smoking in places they would previously feel the need to light up. Smoking rates have continued to drop year on year with the number of children aged 16 and under who regularly smoke has halved to 3% since 2007; the lowest figure on record. The smoking ban also saw fewer people hospitalized as an effect of smoking, with hospital admissions for heart attacks, asthma and lung infections down by 2.4%, which is around 1,200 fewer cases than in the years before the ban. Although numbers are dropping year on year, it is said that 19% of all adults still smoke.

So, it’s clear that the smoking ban back in 2007 had some clear effects on smokers and helped drop numbers as well as put fewer people at risk of health complications. The newest law to be enforced is that all tobacco companies must package their goods in ‘plain packaging’, this new law came into effect on 20th May 2016, but allowed companies to sell off remaining stock within the next year.

If you smoke, you’ve probably taken a good look at your new cigarette packaging and noticed the changes. The new law means that tobacco companies must remove ALL forms of branding from their packaging; this includes colors, imagery, corporate logos and trademarks. Companies are only permitted to print their brand name in a mandated size, font and place on the pack as well as any health warnings and tax-paid stamps. New health warnings will now cover around 60% of the packaging and the appearance of tobacco packs is standardized, including the color of the pack. Every pack will now use ‘Pantone 448 C Opaque Couche’ which has been named the “Ugliest Color in the World” as the single and only color to be used on packaging. All tobacco pouches and cigarette packs must now adhere to these regulations.

Whether the new packaging will have as big of an effect as the ban did, if any effect is just speculation right now. The only way to ever truly tell if it’s going to have the desired effect on consumers is to look at the stats. France tried to win the race to become the first European country to introduce plain packaging following Australia’s example.  France spent around €100 million to buy up all remaining stock of colored, branded packs. This allowed France to roll out plain packaging quicker, but ended up seeing no decline in tobacco consumption. In fact, it saw a 0.9% increase in tobacco sales from 1st January 2017 – 31st June 2017, in comparison to 2016 (Rising from 22.69 to 22.9 billion cigarettes sold). The sales of rolling tobacco also increased by 3.6% over the first three months of 2017, even though there was an additional tax introduced to discourage the items use. All this just goes to show that while the thought and ideas are accurate and that according to research it should help reduce the number of smokers, it isn’t guaranteed to do so.