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​Dentists celebrate action on plain packs

26 January 2015

The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed news that legislation on plain packaging of cigarettes is set to be fast-tracked.

The BDA, the professional association for dentists, has campaigned vigorously for action on plain packs, and is a member of the Smokefree Action Coalition and a supporter of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

Tobacco use remains a key cause of gum disease and oral cancer, with treatment costing the taxpayer millions a year.

The BDA’s Scientific Adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said:

“Action on plain packs is great news for the future of Britain’s oral health. As dentists we see the impact of tobacco marketing on a daily basis, in patients with gum disease and oral cancer that often could have been prevented.

“Distinctive packaging remains one of the tobacco industry’s top promotional tools, so there was never any excuse for delaying this initiative.

“In Australia the evidence shows that plains packs are already helping make smoking less attractive. Taking the sheen off tobacco is an essential step to helping smokers break the habit, and preventing the next generation reaching for their first cigarette.”

Cigarettes and Oral Heath

  • According to Cancer Research UK, an estimated 65% (70% in males and 55% in females) of oral and pharyngeal cancers in the UK are linked to tobacco smoking.
  • Oral cavity cancer risk is three times higher in current smokers compared with those who have never smoked, a meta-analysis showed.
  • ASH has estimated that a smoker has between a 5-fold and 20-fold increased risk of periodontal (or gum) disease.
  • Smokers also exhibit higher rates of other oral diseases, including: alveolar (jaw) bone loss and tooth loss, oral infections, discolouration of teeth and oral tissues
  • The BDA strongly supports the conclusions of the Chantler Review into standardised packaging of tobacco. We agree that the introduction of standardised packaging is likely to contribute to important public health gains, in conjunction with other tobacco control measures.
  • Figures released by the Australian government in July 2014 have indicated a 15 per cent fall in smoking rates in the period between the introduction of standardised packaging in December 2012 and the 12.5 per cent increase in tobacco duty in December 2013 (2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
  • Proxy measures of the volume of tobacco on the Australian market also showed a decrease in this period, countering the claim by tobacco companies that standardised packaging would boost cigarette sales by triggering a price war.

About the BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association and trade union for dentists in the UK. It represents dentists working in general practice, in community and hospital settings, in academia and research, and in the armed forces, and includes dental students. The BDA promotes members’ interests, advances the science, arts and ethics of dentistry, and contributes towards improving the nation's oral health.

For further information, please contact the BDA's media team on 0207 563 4145/46 or visit the BDA's news centre. You can also follow news from the BDA on Twitter. Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.