Press Release

Minister for Health welcomes new studies showing the positive impact of standardised packaging in Australia

Calls to Australia’s Quitline soar while use of smoking areas plummets since introduction of new cigarette packets.

The Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, today (Friday 17th January 2014) welcomed new research by the Cancer Council Victoria which found that pack display on tables declined by 15% after the introduction of plain packaging, which was mostly due to a 23% decline in the percentage of patrons who were observed smoking. Separately, another study found that calls to Australia’s quitline soared by 78% in the month after the new packets were introduced.

The Minister said, “These new studies reveal the power of cigarette packaging. For too long, the tobacco industry has been free to market their product in shiny, attractive packaging that is targeted at our children. Standardised packaging will put an end to this. Packets will very clearly show the consequences of this killer addiction.

“The increase in calls to Australia’s quitline is especially welcome”, he continued, “We know that smokers who use quitlines increase their chances of successfully quitting.”

The Cancer Council Victoria research, published in “Addiction Journal” today, aimed to evaluate whether cigarette pack display (packs visible on tables) and smoking at outdoor venues changed following the introduction of plain packaging and larger graphic health warnings in December 2012.

Researchers counted patrons, smokers and tobacco packs at cafes, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating for several months both before and after the introduction of plain packaging.

The study also found that the declines in pack display and patrons observed smoking were stronger in venues where children were present.

A separate study published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week found that calls to Australia’s quitline soared by 78% in the month after the new packets were introduced.

Previous research published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year concluded that when consuming cigarettes from the new packs, smokers are:

  • 66% more likely to think their cigarettes are of poorer quality
  • 70% more likely to say they found them less satisfying
  • 81% more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day      and rate quitting as a higher priority in their lives.

Concluding, the Minister said, “Most importantly of all, I hope that standardised packaging will reduce the number of young people who start smoking in the first place. No parents – regardless of whether they are smokers or non-smokers – want to see their children become addicted to cigarettes.

“Cigarettes are the only legally available product that will kill half of their users. They are the number one cause of preventable death in Ireland. 5,200 smokers will die from their addiction this year – this is almost one in five deaths. This Government is committed to tackling this public health epidemic.”

Notes for Editors

Public consultation on the Standardised Packaging legislation will begin at the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children later this month.

Minister Reilly will seek Cabinet approval for publication of a Standardised Packaging Bill shortly afterwards.

The Standardised Packaging Bill is on the A list of priority Government legislation that was published yesterday.

Read the Medical Journal of Australia research here and the Addiction Journal research here