Plain packet cigarettes
Plain packet cigarettes make people more likely to think about quitting (Retuers)

The government has announced plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarette products by 2015.

In July, David Cameron dropped plans to introduce the plain packaging saying more evidence was needed to show if it would be effective in reducing the number of smokers in the UK.

However, in a surprise U-turn, a review into the evidence supporting plain packaging for tobacco products has now been launched and will be led by paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler.

The review will focus on a pilot scheme in Australia, which introduced plain packets in 2011.

Evidence from Australia, announced in July, found that plain packaging makes cigarettes taste worse and increases people's thoughts of quitting.

Research funded by Cancer Council Victoria and published in BMJ Open found that plain pack smokers were 81% more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day.

"The finding that smokers smoking from a plain pack evidenced more frequent thought about, and priority for quitting, than branded pack smokers is important, since frequency of thoughts about quitting has strong predictive validity in prospective studies for actually making a quit attempt," the study said.

Glamorous and desirable

"Overall, the introductory effects we observed are consistent with the broad objectives of the plain packaging legislation."

Welcoming the government review, which is due to be completed in March, Cancer Research UK said the introducing of plain packaging would undoubtedly save thousands of lives.

The charity said over 7 million smokers in the UK started before they were 18 years old and that half of all long-term smokers will die from their addiction. In total, 100,000 people die every year from a smoking-related illness.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Tobacco is a unique product. It is the only consumable that, when used in the way the manufacturer intends, kills half of its users. Allowing marketing practices that promote this is simply wrong - especially when the result is millions of children being lured in to an addiction that results in death and chronic health problems.

"This government's stated intention to bring in standardised packaging of tobacco shows great leadership. If this becomes law next year there is no question that it will save thousands of lives in the future.

"Stopping cigarettes being marketed to children as a glamorous and desirable accessory is one of the greatest gifts we can give the next generation."