Health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales has welcomed a key vote by Assembly Members which paves the way for legislation that would ban glossy tobacco packaging aimed at young people.

AMs voted to approve a Legislative Consent Motion tabled by the Welsh Government in the Senedd earlier today (21st January) which paves the way for standardised packaging to be introduced across the UK if an amendment to the Children and Families Bill is approved in Westminster at the end of the month.

Legislation on standardised packaging would ban tobacco companies from using eye-catching packaging like these below to sell their product.

In Wales 16% of 15 year old girls smoke at least once a week compared with 11% of 15 year old boys. (WHO Health Behaviour in School aged Children survey 2009/10)

There is evidence that standardised packaging:

• makes tobacco packaging look less attractive to young people

• increases the effectiveness of health warnings

• prevents use of misleading colours to imply different strengths, and

• removes the cool imagery associated with certain cigarette brands

Australia was the first country in the world to implement standard packs in December 2012. New Zealand, Scotland and Ireland have also said they will follow.

A YouGov survey for ASH Wales in 2013 has also revealed that two thirds of the Welsh public now want to see standard packs for tobacco.

"This vote shows that there is cross party support for standardised packaging and takes us a step further in Wales to banning the last form of advertising by the tobacco companies.

“Young people we have spoken to around Wales have described current tobacco packaging as similar to chewing gum, perfume, posh tissues and even Lego. Tobacco is a lethal product and the marketing of such a product aimed at young people in this way should not be tolerated.

“There is no evidence that standardised tobacco packaging would increase the illicit trade as the tobacco industry would have us believe, as packs will still require the coloured health warnings, statutory information and covert markings which help to distinguish them from counterfeit products.”

Elen de Lacy, Chief Executive of ASH Wales