Matheson to proceed with plain cigarette packaging

Scotland’s public health minister today launched a scathing attack on tobacco industry tactics as he pledged to press ahead with plain packaging of cigarettes.
Michael Matheson slammed cigarette firms and their 'delaying tactics.' Picture: PAMichael Matheson slammed cigarette firms and their 'delaying tactics.' Picture: PA
Michael Matheson slammed cigarette firms and their 'delaying tactics.' Picture: PA

Michael Matheson accused cigarette firms of “sheltering” behind smokers while generations of children take up the “addictive and lethal products.”

David Cameron has already ditched plans to adopt plain packaging in England as UK ministers wait to see the impact of the measure in Australia.

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But Mr Matheson made it clear there will be no u-turn in Scotland, with a consultation set to be launched early in the New Year.

“We have seen all around the world that the tobacco industry does not like governments taking decisive action to protect people from the harms caused by the products they produce,” he said today.

“We will not be deterred by the tobacco industry. They have failed before in challenging the Scottish Parliament’s ability to legislate on public health, as we saw in the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss Imperial Tobacco’s challenge on the tobacco display ban.”

Supermarkets must now keep cigarettes hidden from display in Scotland and this will soon extent to smaller shops.

“We must also hold the tobacco industry to account,” he added.

“They have sheltered behind smokers and retailers for too long while we know that every year children are taking up tobacco use and falling into addiction. The delaying tactics used by the tobacco industry are being increasingly exposed for the myths that they are.

“To build a generation free from tobacco it is necessary to restrict the imagery and design that tobacco companies use to pull in another generation to use these addictive and lethal products.”

The minister was addressing the Faculty of Public Health Conference ‘Making Scotland a Healthier Nation’ in Dunblane and said he was “very encouraged” by the early findings coming out of Australia following implementation of plain packaging there.