Together we will beat cancer


Many people in the world of public health felt as though they’d been given an early Christmas present today.

The Government has given the strongest indication yet that it’s on the way to introducing plain, standardised tobacco packaging – a crucial step that could save thousands of lives.

It’s not quite a done deal. The final decision will be subject to the results of an independent evidence review. But the fact that the Government is finally heeding our calls to give children one less reason to start smoking is fantastic news.

As our chief executive, Dr Harpal Kumar, said, stopping cigarettes being marketed to children as a glamorous and desirable accessory “is one of the greatest gifts we can give the next generation”.

Tobacco is the only consumer product that when used as intended, will kill half of its long term users.

That’s why we’re thrilled that tobacco is so close to being taken out of its glitzy and colourfully designed packs, and rewrapped in a way that highlights the truly harmful nature of such a deadly product.

A long road

It’s nearly a year to the day since Australia became the first country to put tobacco products in standardised packaging, after facing strong opposition from the tobacco industry. We shouldn’t forget that the road towards standard packaging in the UK has been long, and not without a few potholes of its own.

In May we were disappointed that there was no mention of standardised packs in the Queen’s Speech.

Then in July this disappointment deepened, when the Government formally shelved any plans to introduce standard packs.

But the evidence for standardardising packs is clear, and has continued to grow – so instead of becoming despondent we rallied and re-doubled our efforts to convince the Government that standard packs must be introduced.

And because of our efforts, slowly but surely we’ve seen the growing public support for the campaign take hold in Westminster.

MPs debated the subject of standard packs in September, and in a key Backbench Business debate in November.

In both debates there was overwhelming support for this measure from across the political spectrum.

Cross-party amendments to the Children and Families Bill had been tabled in the House of Lords to allow the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging. They were to have been voted on in the near future.

What’s next?

The support has also grown internationally as a host of countries, including the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, have publicly committed to the policy.

The Government will now conduct an evidence review to be chaired by Sir Cyril Chantler – a paediatrician and the Chairman of University College London Partners and non-executive Chairman of the Quality and Clinical Risk Committee of NHS England.

The Government will also now bring its own proposals to Parliament.

These proposals will allow them to bring in standardised tobacco packaging quickly if they decide in favour following Sir Cyril’s review, reporting by March 2014.

We think this shows great leadership as, if this becomes law next year, there’s no question that it will save thousands of lives in the future.

We’ll ask everyone to urge their MPs to support standard packs when the time comes.


Further information


Brian Nightingale December 10, 2013

My mother and my grandmother both died of breast cancer. My maternal aunt and my niece both had it and survived. All non smokers and apart from my niece, non drinkers. Smoking may well be a factor but not the only one. For CRUK to focus so much on smoking as the only issue, comes across as more based on ideology rather than science.

Hal Volante December 5, 2013

After watching family members who did not smoke, die, from cancer I find it hard to believe in what this objective has in merit to Cancer Research, fundamentaly I subscribe in the belief that some day CR will find many cures for the different types of cancer that affect not only smokers but evryone, I am a smoker and enjoy it, I am in control of what I do and people died to give me that control. Stop trying to control what people do, thats not your remit nor the reason I subscribe to CR. What next? sell alcohol in unlabeled bottles etc??? Alcohol causes cancer along with a host of other products available in the OPEN market!!

Sonje December 1, 2013

Throw the the packets in the nearest skip. They cause heart attacks and cancer.

Sonje December 1, 2013

Throw every packet of cigarettes in the nearest skip and ban them. They cause heart attacks and cancer. People will live longer and save the NHS money.

lisac November 30, 2013

What is all this garbage about? You either decide to sell people drugs that may kill them or you don`t. I say stop trading lives for profit, stop selling cigarettes in shops and make them available on the national health .

robert watson November 29, 2013

quick question has just come to mind do we have any figures on how many people have given up since you could not smoke in the work place I.E before and after the reason i ask is i haven’t heard of any Tabasco company’s going bust or lots of people losing there jobs because of this or do we not make any in this country there seems to be the same old company’s selling them and a few new ones

robert watson November 29, 2013

this is all smoke and mirrors if it was going to happen it would have happened by now and one thing that always puzzles me as we all know there is no nicotine in tobacco it is put there by cigaret company’s to my then addictive also we no that tobacco is very hard to keep alight and company’s put chemicals into them to make them burn at a set rate so if the government were realy intending to reduce the amount of people that smoke it would be very easy just ban them for adding nicotine and the other chemicals that are not present in tobacco and that would reduce the amount that smoke but you know and i no that this would never happen as there is firstly the tax the government get from the tobacco industry then there is all the jobs involved in that industry then we go on all the staff that are employed to look after them when they get ill then all the charity involved in all the medical problems that are linked to smoking i believe if there was no smoking half the people employed today would be out of a job why the government needs to do is make cigarettes more healthy cut all the chemical put into them that are realy not required but are put there for other reasons and make them as health as possible then you would see a reduction in the amount of people that smoke i remember when is started smoking you would use two or three matches per cigarette as they always whent out and they were not as smooth as they are today so bring them back like that and a lot would quit
1)no nicotine
2)no chemicals to keep them alight
3)no chemicals to make then smoother
4)no chemicals to reduce tar

Richard Paines November 28, 2013

Hello, I am 62 years old and was a big smoker for many years but I gave up about 32 years ago. About 18 months ago a friend asked if I could do some shifts in her shop and I was happy to do so. As I opened the shutter on the cigarettes I was amazed how I reacted. It took me back 32 years and I felt a tinge of excitement. If I could feel like that at my age I can fully understand how it could affect a child. The colours are enticing, they are not those colours by chance. The warnings on the packets are not noticeable until the cigarettes are purchased. This government is tied into the tobacco giants and can’t be trusted to introduce plain packaging which has been seen to work in Australia

David Collins November 28, 2013

This is very encouraging news and appears to have been well received by the general public. The public have seen the obvious benefit to society of effective progressive tobacco control. They are beginning to see through the myths, denials and scare tactics of the tobacco sponsored propaganda campaigns. As for staying out of politics, I say this. If research provides evidence that suggests removing tobacco marketing will reduce cancer rates for future generations. Campaign campaign and campaign again. And keep campaigning until the decision maker politicians listen and act. You owe it to the thousands of supporters, volunteer and fund raisers like me to act on the research we pay for. To suggest that cancer is not a political issue is bordering on idiotic. Well done Cancer Research UK. Be proud of the fact that you save,prolong and enhance peoples lives with your work. The vast majority of the public are right behind you.

Cliff November 28, 2013

Plain packaging will not make a scrap of difference to the quantity of cigs that are sold full stop ……..GET OUT of the politics CR it’s not your remit ,I have already stopped my standing order which was paid to you every month ….

A. H. Saffari November 28, 2013

I can only congratulate Cancer Research UK for their devotion in pursuing the fight against this dreadful disease.


Dave Atherton November 28, 2013

Nearly 12 months into the Australian plain packs, guess what? No decrease in smoking and smuggling is up.

It really is a lazy argument “its for the children,” it’s cheap moral blackmail which will not protect them whatsoever, especially as smugglers do not ask for people’s ID before selling.

The smoking rate since the smoking ban, if you include vapers is identical, despite the £300 million a year of MY money being wasted on fake charities and “eye catching” initiatives.

Cigarette packets are for those who have decided to buy a pack and persuade what brand you buy.

I feel Cancer Research is damaging its reputation by being involved in politics and quite frankly junk science.