Welcome to the teachers section of "smoke’s no joke". We aim to arm you with all the information you need to tackle smoking issues in school.

Tobacco law

No Smoking

Two major laws under the Health Act 2006 provided stronger regulation of tobacco products and smoking habits. Since 2007, it has been illegal to smoke in virtually all enclosed public spaces and workplaces.

The Health Act 2006 also imposed legal restrictions on tobacco retailers and it is illegal to sell any form of tobacco product to anyone younger than 18 years of age. This legislation was further enhanced under The Health Act 2009 and in October 2011, it became illegal for tobacco products to be sold from vending machines.

Further restrictions will be introduced under the Health Act 2009. From April 2012, major retailers with large retail premises will no longer be able to openly display tobacco products for sale and from 2015, this will be extended to small shops.

These laws acknowledge that smoking is the cause of serious health problems in the UK for both smokers and non-smokers alike.

These laws:

  • Recognise an individual's right to breathe smoke-free air and be protected from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
  • Support those trying to stop smoking by providing smoke-free environments
  • Reduce illness and death from smoking related illness, both direct and from second-hand smoke.
  • Send a strong message that smoking is not socially acceptable.

For more information please visit www.ash.org.uk and www.gosmokefree.co.uk

Please refer to the Tobacco Crime section

Smoke's No Joke debate

For more information please refer to the 'Guide to running a classroom debate'
Classroom debate resources

No smoke without advertising?

Debate motion:

'This house would only allow tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging.'


  • Since the implementation of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002, the only remaining legal form of tobacco advertising is the packaging displayed at the point of sale. Further restrictions will be introduced under the Health Act 2009. From April 2012, major retailers will no longer be able to openly display tobacco products for sale and from 2015; this will be extended to small shops.
  • Australia is the first country in the world to legislate on this issue and from December 2012 will become the first country in the world to require all tobacco products to be sold in plain standardised packaging.
  • Standardised packaging means that the cigarette pack could still carry the brand name but only in a standard typeface, colour and size. All other trademarks, logos and colour schemes normally associated with the brand would be removed. The pack would be plain coloured (white or brown) and show only information to describe the pack contents, consumer information and the legally required health warnings. The only visual content would be graphic photographs showing the possible health implications associated with smoking.

Proposing arguments

  • Tobacco packaging has become one of the tobacco industry's leading promotional tools. Under EU law, tobacco companies are not allowed to use the term 'light' or 'mild' to imply lower tar strength. However, the industry has developed an 'implied' branding scheme using certain words e.g. 'smooth' and certain colours e.g. pale blue to imply the same brand claims. Removing these aspects from the packaging would remove these branding 'cues' and the implied false and misleading messages that one type of cigarette is less harmful than another.
  • Plain packaging proposals will finally eradicate the 'glamour image' cigarette smoking once traded on, whilst graphic health messages will put marginal smokers off and deter people from starting smoking.
  • Current packaging design focuses on attracting young people into smoking a particular brand. Plain packaging removes desirable brand values and lets people decide for themselves at face value, whether to smoke or not.

Opposing arguments

  • It would simply make no difference. Smokers would quickly adapt to the new format packaging and would carry on buying them as before.
  • Cigarette packaging already carries strong health warnings – people either ignore them or stop 'seeing' them.
  • Removing expensive brand packaging may actually make cigarettes cheaper. Price is an acknowledged deterrent and a major factor in the decision to quit.

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