Messages encouraging UK smokers to quit are expected to be found soon inside packets of cigarettes as the government is contemplating adding pack inserts to tobacco products to encourage smokers to quit and seeking views on the same.
The consultation – which opens today (14) – will seek views on the introduction and design of pack inserts.
Placed inside the packaging of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco, the inserts will contain positive messages to encourage people to quit and signpost them to advice and support. The messages will set out the health benefits of quitting – for example, improvements to breathing within a matter of days and a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of heart attack within a year – as well as showing smokers how much money they stand to save by giving up, with the average person likely to save over £2,000 per year if they quit.
“Smoking remains the single leading preventable cause of illness and mortality in the UK. It results in nearly 4% of all hospital admissions each year – equivalent to almost 450,000 admissions. Tobacco-related harms are also estimated to cost taxpayers an estimated £21 billion every year, including over £2 billion in costs to the NHS,” states gov.uk.
The government expects that introducing pack inserts into all tobacco products in the UK could lead to an additional 30,000 smokers giving up their habit – delivering health benefits worth £1.6 billion.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said, “Smoking places a huge burden on the NHS, economy and individuals. It directly causes a whole host of health problems – including cancers and cardiovascular disease – and costs the economy billions every year in lost productivity.
“By taking action to reduce smoking rates and pursuing our ambition to be smokefree by 2030, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS and help people to live healthier lives.”
Pack inserts are already used in other countries – including Canada and Israel, with Australia also announcing its intention to introduce them – and there is evidence that they can be an effective means of encouraging smokers to quit. An evaluation of the policy’s impact in Canada found that almost 1 in 3 smokers had read the inserts at least once in the past month, and that those who were exposed to the inserts multiple times were significantly more likely to try to give up smoking.
The consultation aims to drive the government’s ambition to be smokefree by 2030 – which means reducing smoking rates to 5 per cent or less. Other measures include funding a new national ‘swap to stop’ scheme to offer a million smokers a free vaping starter kit, launching a financial incentive scheme in the form of vouchers alongside behavioural support to support pregnant women to stop smoking, and a new strategy to combat illicit tobacco.