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| July 23, 2013

Ministers in the U.K. government now have “no excuse” to delay plans to require cigarettes to be sold in standardized packs, according to a story in the electronic Telegraph quoting health campaigners.

The campaigners were basing their claim on the results of a study that found that tobacco sold in standardized packaging was “less appealing” and made smokers “prioritize quitting.”

Earlier this month the government came under heavy fire for abandoning—for the time being at least—the idea of introducing standardized tobacco packaging.

The government put the matter out to public consultation and, following that consultation, decided to await the outcome of Australia’s pioneering adoption of standardized packaging.

Since Dec. 1, 2012, Australia has required that all tobacco products be sold in packaging designed on behalf of the government to be as ugly as possible. Packs are hugely dominated by graphic health warnings, are otherwise a standard olive color, have no logos or other design features, and have brand and variant names in a standardized font and position.

Research into the strategy, published in the online journal BMJ Open, was conducted to find out the effects the policy was having in the early stages, according to the Telegraph story.

The authors interviewed 536 cigarette smokers in the Australian state of Victoria during November 2012, when standardized packs were already available. Smokers smoking cigarettes from standardized packs comprised 72.3 percent of respondents, while the remainder were still using branded packs with smaller health warnings.

The researchers found that, compared to smokers using cigarettes from branded packs, smokers using cigarettes from standardized packs were 66 percent more likely to think their cigarettes were of poorer quality than those of a year ago, and they were 70 percent more likely to say they found them less satisfying. They were also 81 percent more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day during the previous week.

“Overall, the introductory effects we observed are consistent with the broad objectives of the plain packaging legislation,” the authors said. “We await further research to examine more durable effects on smokers and any effects on youth.”

Category: Breaking News

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