A CIGARETTE pack branding ban would not only save thousands of lives in Swindon but would boost the town economy by more than £2m, health chiefs have claimed.

New figures released by Public Health England predict savings of around £2,031,168 across town if standardised tobacco packaging was introduced – providing an economic lift to the most deprived communities.

The report comes following data from Australia, where the standardised and branding-free packs were introduced in December 2012, showing a 3.4 per cent fall in tobacco sales by volume in the first year.

If mirrored in the UK, PHE also predicts total savings of up to £3.84m in Wiltshire.

Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, said standardised packs would help to significantly reduce the number of young smokers.

“The evidence is in, and it is clear,” she said. “This shows that the introduction of standard packs is likely to decrease the number of children in the South West starting to smoke.

“Attractive packaging is a key reason why young people are tempted to try smoking which can lead on into a lifetime of addiction, an addiction that ends in death for 1 in 2 of all long-term smokers.”

But Ilpa Patel, owner of Victoria News in Old Town, was sceptical about the standardised packs and their ability to truly reduce smoking’s appeal.

“I don’t think it will make a difference,” she said. “If people want to smoke they’ll smoke. Some people care about the branding and what’s on the packet but I think they’ll still smoke.”