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Plain tobacco packs will go ahead after big firms lose High Court battle

By the end of this week, tobacco and cigarette packaging will be made less appealing to the public with prominent health warnings and plain packaging.

The law is due to come into force on Friday 20 May.

The world’s biggest tobacco product manufacturers, including Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, had challenged the ruling but were overruled in the High Court.

It means companies selling tobacco will not be allowed to print anything else on packs other than the brand name.

Their current lines will be replaced with drab green packs with health warnings that smoking causes blindness and cancer printed on both sides.

The government has given firms one year to sell off old stock before it becomes illegal in May 2017.

Campaigners say the move is a huge win for public health.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH said: “Hundreds of children start smoking every day and for too long tobacco companies have used bright and glamourous packets to attract children to a deadly addiction which claims almost 100,000 lives in the UK every year.”

“This is a momentous day for public health.

“Standardised packaging has already reduced smoking rates in Australia. With this measure, we too can look forward to the inevitable reduced appeal of smoking to children which will help save thousands of lives.”

Australia’s plain packaging laws were introduced in 2011, banning bright colours or brand designs on cigarette packaging.

Andrea Crossfield, Chief Executive of Healthier Futures said: “Smoking spreads death and disease as well as untold grief to thousands of families all over the country.

“In the North West, 4 out of 5 children who try smoking do so before they are 14 years old and around 18,000 children from the North West start to smoke each year.

“This is a victory for our children and young people, and a heavy loss for the tobacco industry.

“They have spent millions of pounds lobbying politicians to delay this measure because they know it will work.”

YouGov data shows that 61% of adults in the North West of England (ASH/YouGov Smokefree Britain 2016 survey) support requiring tobacco to be sold in plain standardised packaging with the product name in standard lettering.

The new packs are required under the Standardised Packaging Regulations, secondary legislation under the Children and Families Act 2014.

Main image: William West/AFP/Getty

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Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.