Minister denies cigarette ‘U-turn’

CigarettesA consultation on the move was carried out by the government last year

The government is to postpone its plans to introduce standardised plain packaging for cigarettes in the UK.

Ministers are expected to tell MPs that a decision on the policy has been formally delayed so that more time can be spent examining how similar plans have worked in Australia.

The aim of such packaging is to discourage young people from smoking by making the packets less attractive.

Campaigners said they were bitterly disappointed with the decision.

The packets would all be the same colour, with the same font and carry a prominent graphic warning.

Ministers were keen to go ahead with the proposal after the Department of Health held a consultation last year.

But Downing Street was said to be worried about the impact on jobs.

‘Important decision’

The BBC has been told that the government will postpone any decision so it can study what has happened in Australia.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is an important decision and we make no apology for taking time to get it right.”

Cancer Research UK chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar said the decision would cost lives, and urged the government to rethink its policy.

The UK-wide consultation came to an end in August.

It was extended by a month to allow more people to respond after strong public interest in the issue.

Plain packaging is seen by campaigners as the next step in discouraging young people from taking up smoking.

Launching the consultation, the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he wanted tobacco companies to have “no business” in the UK.

BBC News – Health

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