The North East of England successfully uniting as a region behind the campaign for the implementation of standardised packaging
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Fresh, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A627
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Background and challenges to implementation:
With tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion (2003) and point of sale displays (2015) prohibited, tobacco packaging had become the main source of promotion in the UK. Evidence shows that branding helps to recruit young people to a lifetime of addiction. A concerted national advocacy campaign on standardised packaging was undertaken from 2011 through the Smokefree Action Coalition (SFAC) with strong support by Fresh (North East England) and local authorities in the region.

Intervention or response:
Fresh, along with colleagues in the NE, supported the campaign from its inception and responded in force to two governmental consultations with submissions from local authorities and in particular regulatory teams, the health service, the police and the voluntary sector. All NE authorities had robust policies in place to counter the efforts by the tobacco industry to derail progress towards implementation of the measure.

Results and lessons learnt:
In 2015, the UK became the second country in the world to pass legislation on standardised packs with full compliance achieved by May 2017. The tobacco industry issued legal challenges and appeals to both the UK and the European Union, but they lost. Public support for the measure was 60% by February 2017. Early results from NE research shows that the measure is having an impact on smokers who had seen the packs, with 60% thinking they looked less attractive and 51% noticing the health warnings more. There is also no evidence to suggest that standard packs will lead to an increase in the illicit tobacco market.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Working through the SFAC ensured that there was a huge ground swell of support in the NE and scores of organisations were able to unite around an effective campaign. Collaboration internationally was also pivotal including the leadership from Australia. The introduction of standardised packaging is another key milestone in the NE ambition to Make Smoking History.

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