• February 28, 2024

Cautious Welcome for U.K. Insert Proposal

 Cautious Welcome for U.K. Insert Proposal

Photo: Tobacco Reporter archive

Photo: Tobacco Reporter archive

Smokers’ rights campaigners have given a cautious welcome to a U.K. government proposal to add pack inserts to tobacco products to encourage more smokers to quit.

On August 14, the British government launched a consultation on a proposal the plan, which calls for adding leaflets inside cigarette packs to encourage smokers to quit, telling them they could enhance their life expectance and save lots of money if they abandon smoking.   

Tobacco-related harms are estimated to cost British taxpayers an estimated £18 billion every year, including over £1.72  billion in costs to the state-funded National Health Service.

SImon Clark

“If the inserts provide constructive information about quitting there is some merit in the idea,” said Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest.

“For example, inserting information about reduced risk products such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco and nicotine pouches would make a lot of sense.

“Targeting consumers with more anti-smoking messages, which are on the pack already, risks warning fatigue and won’t work.”

While welcoming the proposal in principle, Clark expressed concern about who would bear the expense of adding the inserts. “If the cost is passed on to consumers, who already pay punitive rates of taxation on tobacco, it may be counterproductive because more smokers will switch to illicit tobacco products that won’t have inserts added,” he said.

The pack inserts envisioned by the British government are already used in Canada, Australia and Israel, among other countries.