Fury at reports of PM’s cigarette packaging U-turn

Suggestions that the Prime Minister may U-turn on cigarette packaging legislation has angered health campaigners. Picture: Getty

Suggestions that the Prime Minister may U-turn on cigarette packaging legislation has angered health campaigners. Picture: Getty

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HEALTH campaigners have condemned reports suggesting that the Prime Minister has scrapped plans to introduce standardised cigarette packs.

• Reports that David Cameron will renege on plans to introduce standardised cigarette packaging has been met with anger by health campaigners

• Government source says policy bears no relation to Coalition’s “key purpose”

Officials have been weighing up the move for over a year and it was widely expected for the initiative to be announced during next week’s Queen’s speech.

But reports suggest that David Cameron has ordered the proposed law to be pulled from the speech on May 8.

A Whitehall source told The Sun: “Plain packaging may or may not be a good idea, but it’s nothing to do with the Government’s key purpose.

“The PM is determined to strip down everything we do so we can concentrate all our efforts on voters’ essentials. That means growth, immigration and welfare reform.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “For a Whitehall source to say that improving public health and reducing premature mortality is no longer one of the Government’s key purposes is shocking.

“Smoking remains the major preventable cause of death and disability and measures to reduce smoking prevalence are popular and effective. Over 60 per cent of the public support standard packaging for cigarette packs.

“It will take a lot of explanation if this crucial public health measure is not included in the Queen’s speech on 8 May.”

Last April, the Government launched a consultation on plans to introduce mandatory standardised packaging for tobacco products.

Health experts have welcomed the proposal, but opponents claimed it would lead to increased smuggling and job losses.

Information generated by the consultation, which closed in August, is still being analysed by health officials.

In December, Australia became the first country in the world to put all tobacco products in uniform packs.

Cigarette packets and other products are all sold in a standardised colour, with only the brand name and graphic warnings visible.

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