The measure would result in retailers losing £2.25m in profit every year for the first ten years, falling to £900,000 if the measure only applied to rolling tobacco, according to estimates from the Department of Health (DoH).
The consultation is open until October, and the DoH said it is considering costs and benefits to retailers and wholesalers of tobacco products and asking for feedback from both groups.
Go Local retailer Sasi Patel said: “It won’t make 1% of difference [to smoking levels]. Once someone has picked up a cigarette, no insight will make them want to stop. These really bad images [on the front of cigarette packs] of exposed lungs – people joke about them.”
He added that the government are not “coming up with new initiatives”, and need to invest in younger education in order to cut down on smoking.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, disagreed with this take, showing support for packaging amendments to reduce smoking.
“Pack inserts [back up] the grim messages about death and disease on the outside, with the best advice about how to quit on the inside,” she said. “It takes smokers on average 30 attempts before they succeed in stopping, so encouraging them to keep on trying is vital.”
The DoH report that there will be health and financial benefits in the inserts, including highlighting the support available, and how money can be saved through quitting smoking.
The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities in England is leading the UK-wide consultation. The adoption of packaging inserts would be a part of the government’s pledge to end smoking in England by 2030.
The DoH also said an evaluation of the impact in Canada found that smokers exposed to the inserts were more likely to try to give up.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “By taking action to reduce smoking rates and pursuing our ambition to be smoke free by 2030, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS and help people to live healthier lives.”
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