Scottish government stands firm on tobacco pack plan

In collaboration with the Press Association

Plans to introduce plain, standardised packaging for tobacco products are gathering pace in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is pressing ahead with the idea as part of its tobacco control strategy, with consultation on the next steps toward implementation planned for early 2014.

Minister for public health Michael Matheson has pledged to be ready to consult on details within a matter of months.

It follows UK-wide discussions on the principles of standardised packaging last year.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, welcomed the news but expressed regret that standardised packaging "is not at the forefront of the current legislative timetable".

"Each year, more than 20,000 Scots children, tempted by glitzy, slickly designed packs, are lured into starting smoking. If the Scottish Government is serious about curbing the death toll caused by this lethal habit and meeting its goal for Scotland to become a nation free from tobacco by 2034, it is vital MSPs stand by their commitment to bring in this life saving legislation before the next election," he added.

Australia became the first country to introduce standardised packaging for tobacco in December last year.

Evidence shows that standardised packaging makes smoking less appealing, and other research suggests that the introduction of plain packaging in Australia has not increased transaction times for the sale of tobacco in shops.

This counters claims made by the tobacco industry that retrieval time for tobacco products would increase and incur costs for retailers.

"Unlike the UK Government, we will not back away from this important measure to help protect our young people from becoming the smokers of tomorrow," declared Mr Matheson.

"Introducing plain packaging will make an important contribution to our efforts to reduce smoking prevalence and achieve our target of a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034."

Copyright Press Association 2013