Intended for healthcare professionals


Standardised packaging for cigarettes

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 25 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2414
  1. Joanna E Cohen, director
  1. Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21205
  1. jcohen{at}

Undressing a pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing

Tobacco industry products are responsible for six million deaths every year,1 equating to 100 million deaths in the 20th century and a projected 21 billion deaths in the 21st century.2 All of these deaths—from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and other causes3—are completely preventable. This global epidemic has gone on for far too long.

No magic bullet

There is no magic bullet to end the tobacco epidemic. We need a comprehensive approach tackling the problem from multiple angles, with the floor set by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control4: higher prices, smoke-free environments, no tobacco advertising or promotion, warning the public about the dangers from these products, and reducing the attractiveness of the pack itself.

Pharmaceutical products, which are intended to help us, include a paper insert that details the possible side effects. But nothing like this exists for a product that kills half of its long term users. Instead, cigarettes are placed in alluring …

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