Nottingham smokers have given a mixed reaction to new packaging laws and regulations for cigarettes – with some saying the rules unfairly target them but others hoping children would be better deterred from taking up the habit.
As of Sunday May 21, shops must not sell smaller 10 packs of cigarettes or smaller hand-rolled tobacco packs, and menthol cigarettes will be phased out by 2020.
Packaging has also changed. All branding has been removed in place of a standard green-brown design with graphic pictures and health warnings on the side that must cover the top 65 per cent of the front and back of the package.
But some Nottingham smokers said they thought the changes would not stop them lighting up.
John Weston, 74, of Forest Fields, said: “It’s disgraceful. It’s hard enough for the people at the shop to find your cigarettes anyway and it’s so needless.
“Then you’ve got all these freaks making their own cigarettes and there’s this feeling that smokers are all being sat on this naughty step or something.”
Adult smoking prevalence in Nottingham is 24 per cent – significantly above the national average of 17 per cent.
Last year, Nottingham City Council seized 436,555 illegal cigarettes and more than 347kg of illegal hand-rolling tobacco – as criminals try to cash on high prices by smuggling in or even manufacturing che
Mr Weston added, “I don’t think the packaging will change anything, or discourage new smokers. I’ve been smoking for 60 years and the price or packaging has never bothered me.”
From Sunday rules on pricing also mean the cheapest packet of cigarettes is now £8.82.
Some other smokers thought the new rules would be more effective.
Andy Moore, 36, of Hyson Green, said: “I think the packaging will discourage a few new smokers. More so than the regulations of no menthol or flavoured.
“The fact you can’t get small packs and the fact the price is quite high now will discourage a lot of newer smokers. I even know a few people that have switched to vaping, because it’s cheaper.”
He added: “The packaging is gross though and you don’t see it until you’ve actually bought it. A nasty reminder, but a little too late for a lot of people.”
Jack Murdoch, 19, said: “I don’t think packaging matters as people can’t see the packs before buying it anyway – everyone buys it by name not by look.”
Mr Murdoch said he’d only been smoking for two months, but he only smoked Marlboro and Amberleaf, because he didn’t know what other brands looked like.
The Arnold man added: “Smoking is advertised socially more than anything else now anyway – you don’t buy a packet of cigarettes because you know the packaging. People try cigarettes through other people and it spreads.”
When asked if he was concerned for his health, Mr Murdoch said: “Not really. I’m sure a lot more people drink and that’s bad for you, but you don’t see alcohol getting explicit labels do you?”
Katherine Hobbes, 29, sales assistant at First Stop 4 shop in the Broadmarsh Bus Station, said: “It hasn’t made a difference to us. Everything is all labelled up, so we don’t have a problem finding anything.
“I’m quite glad these regulations have come about, hopefully it will put kids off, it always upsets me – seeing kids asking people to buy cigarettes for them.”
— ASH (@ASH_LDN) 15 May 2017
Alison Challenger, director of public health at Nottingham City Council, said: “We fully support these proposals and hope that they will complement the work we have been doing for many years to reduce the harm caused by smoking.
“A large part of our tobacco strategy in Nottingham focuses on a vision to create a smokefree generation and, specifically, to take smoking out of the sight of children.
“We have great support networks in place in Nottingham through stop-smoking services like New Leaf which can help people to quit – but it’s just as important to try to stop them taking up the habit in the first place. Standardised packaging can help us to achieve that.”
The council’s trading standards department will be checking businesses comply with the new packaging requirements, while continuing to crack down on the city’s problem with illegal tobacco.
Figures show smokers are four times more likely to quit using an NHS stop-smoking service than trying to stop on their own. New Leaf provides free support to help people across Nottinghamshire stop smoking.