Government extends consultation on standardising tobacco packaging

In collaboration with the Press Association

A Government consultation on whether tobacco products should be sold in standardised packaging has been extended for another month, until Friday, 10 August 2012.

The consultation, announced by health secretary Andrew Lansley in April, looks into the possible public health benefits of introducing plain packaging for cigarettes.

In a statement ministers said they were keeping an "open mind" and wanted to give people more time to provide their views on the initiative.

As part of the consultation, the Government is looking at the options of cigarette packets being uniform size and shape with no branding, a uniform colour or a standard font and text.

The consultation looks at whether this type of plain packaging would benefit the public health and whether it would work alongside existing initiatives to encourage fewer people to smoke.

The consultation will now end on August 10.

In a written statement, the Department of Health said: " The Government has been asked to provide more time for people to respond to the consultation.

"We want to maximise the opportunity that people have to provide their views and evidence.

"The Government is, therefore, extending the consultation period for an extra month."

Public health minister Anne Milton said: "Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health.

"Health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look at initiatives that may help to reduce the number of young people taking up smoking and assist existing smokers who are trying to quit. We have an open mind about the introduction of standard packing and want to take full account of all views on the possible benefits and disadvantages of action in this area.

"We have received thousands of responses to the consultation already but we want to make sure that everyone who wants to contribute can. So we are extending the closing date to Friday, 10 August 2012."

Cancer Research UK's Sarah Woolnough said: "The evidence is clear that plain packs make cigarettes less appealing to children.

"Tens of thousands of Cancer Research UK supporters have already told the Government they want plain packs and clear majorities back the move in opinion polls. We will use this extra time to ask for support from even more people.

"After the consultation, the Government should act swiftly to protect millions of children from the marketing of a uniquely deadly and addictive product."

Copyright Press Association 2012