Around 600 clinicians and several leaders in public health have signed a letter submitted to the UK Government urging the acceleration of the introduction of plain cigarette packaging.

The letter criticised the delay in introducing the plain packaging, even after Public Health minister Jane Ellison’s pledge in April to push ahead with the initiative.

British Thoracic Society consultant chest physician and chair of a specialist lung disease advisory group Dr Nicholas Hopkins, Bath and John Ashton professor of public health Anna Gilmore, and UK Faculty of Public Health president are among those who signed the letter.

In April, Ellison replied to a review made by Sir Cyril Chantler into the benefits of plain cigarette packaging and told the parliament that she would bring draft regulations by the end of the month.

According to the report, if standardised packaging were introduced, it would likely have a positive impact on public health, particularly for children. Branded packaging plays a vital role in encouraging young people to smoke, while standardised packaging is expected to help reduce the rate of children taking up smoking.

Standardised packaging may also contribute to a modest but important overall reduction in smoking, according to the report.

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During the implementation process, the government has to engage in a six-week consultation period and should notify the European Union of draft regulations, a process which is expected to take up to six months.

Image: The introduction of standardised cigarette packaging is expected to have a positive impact on public health. Photo: courtesy of Grant Cochrane /