Government taking a 'careful look' at tobacco packaging

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Government is taking a "careful look" at all the evidence coming out of the consultation on standardised packaging on tobacco products, a minister said yesterday.

Health minister Anna Soubry told MPs it was important to examine emerging evidence from Australia, but also noted evidence suggesting that when young people take up smoking, "it's the attractiveness of the packet that makes them decide to make that choice".

Her comments came after MP Dan Jarvis (Labour, Barnsley Central) asked if the Government was planning to legislate "to give millions of children one less reason to start smoking", given that countries such as Australia and New Zealand had already committed to standardised packaging.

Ms Soubry responded: "I'm afraid I can't give a timetable and I make no apology for the fact this Government is taking a careful look at all the evidence that has come out of the consultation."

Evidence suggests that plain, standardised packaging could have an effect on preventing young people from starting smoking. Recent figures suggest that more than 200,000 children aged 11-15 start smoking each year.

Alison Cox, tobacco control lead at Cancer Research UK, welcomed the discussion. "We strongly support proposals to introduce plain, standardised packaging of tobacco, and other measures to reduce the harm caused by smoking. Introducing standardised packaging would be a huge public health achievement for the government. And despite strong lobbying from the tobacco industry, we know the majority of the public backs plain packs.

"We urge the government to move forward with this measure and give it our full backing," she added.

Copyright Press Association 2013