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Standardised tobacco packaging: a positive change for Britain’s oral health 17-04-2015

In a recent free vote in the Commons, MPs voted (367 yes votes to 113 no votes) to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products. This is a massive positive step forwards and could lead to major oral health improvements in England. So what difference will this actually make to our teeth?

Smoking is one of the most significant contributory factors in the development of mouth cancer. This disease has increased dramatically over recent years, with recent statistics showing in the region of 2000 deaths per year because of the disease, with over 6500 new cases being diagnosed each year.

In addition, smoking can have numerous other negative effects on our oral health. As well as staining teeth, smoking can lead to an increase in plaque, bad breath and is strongly associated with gum disease. This in turn can lead to the tooth loss. All of these problems can lead to pain and discomfort and to the need for significant remedial dentistry work. It goes without saying that prevention is simpler, cheaper and more comfortable than cure.

By standardising packaging, the advertising power of tobacco companies will again be tamed. Over recent years, companies have seen their rights in marketing decrease, for example by no longer being able to sponsor sports teams, or display their branding at supermarket tobacco counters. This latest move sees tobacco products and branding take even less prominence, hopefully making these products less appealing to smokers or would be smokers.

It is hoped by dental professionals that this further step in making smoking less appealing will lead to an improvement in oral health for the nation. With a major cause of oral problems declining, then cases of poor dental health should also decline. Ken Lavery, Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and Trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation, is quoted by the British Dental Health Foundation as saying: ‘I am delighted that standardised packaging will now become law in May next year. We have often criticised the government on its lack of movement on the issue, but this is a real win and one we can be very proud of.’

For more information please visit the British Dental Health Foundation website news pages: http://www.dentalhealth.org/news/details/848

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