[A2k] Guardian piece on UK and tobacco plain packaging: Plain cigarette packaging regulations to be announced by ministers

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Jun 27 05:31:22 PDT 2014


Plain cigarette packaging regulations to be announced by ministers
Department of Health confirms it is bringing forward moves on plain
packets, delighting doctors and health charities

   - Denis Campbell <http://www.theguardian.com/profile/deniscampbell>,
   health correspondent
   - theguardian.com <http://www.theguardian.com/>, Thursday 26 June 2014
   10.41 BST

Plain packaging for cigarettes will come a step closer when ministers
announce regulations to enact the historic move on Thursday.

The Department of Health's confirmation that it is finally bringing forward
the regulations will delight doctors and health charities, who have been
growing increasingly concerned about ministers' failure to do so by their
promised deadline.

When the government's review on plain packaging of cigarettes reported on 3
April, Jane Ellison, the public health minister, embraced its endorsement
of the plan and said she would bring forward draft regulations by the end
of that month.

This will finally happen on Thursday through a written ministerial
statement to MPs.

The government initially supported plain packaging, but then dropped the
plan in July 2013, amid suspicions that the Conservatives' election
strategist, Lynton Crosby – a lobbyist who had been involved in opposing
the move in Australia – had persuaded David Cameron not to pursue it.
However, widespread anger in the medical community and the Department of
Health's continuing support for plain packaging forced a rethink.

Thursday's move will not necessarily guarantee plain packaging will be
pushed through before the general election in May. The statement will say
there will be a further, short public consultation and negotiations with
the EU, which will take about six months, before the plans are enacted in
the UK.

The new, second consultation is thought to be necessary to help the
government defeat any legal moves to delay or outlaw plain packaging by
tobacco firms, which fear it will damage their profits.

In December 2012 Australia became the first country in the world to
introduce plain packaging. The move was widely supported by doctors as a
way of deglamourising smoking <http://www.theguardian.com/society/smoking> and
deterring children from smoking.

New Zealand and France have pledged to follow suit, while Ireland has
recently introduced primary legislation to do the same.

Ellison has said that if standardised packaging were introduced "it would
be very likely to have a positive impact on public health".

The government's review, by Sir Cyril Chantler, said the importance of
plain packaging should not be underestimated.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said it
had taken "far too long" for the government to publish plans on how
standardised packaging would be implemented in the UK.

"Tobacco is a killer product and it is misleading for it to be presented in
glitzy packaging. Every day of delay allows the tobacco industry
<http://www.theguardian.com/business/tobacco-industry> to tempt more young
people into adopting a deadly habit," he said.

"The government is fast running out of parliamentary time. It must now act
with speed and decisiveness to ensure this crucial public health measure is
law before the election."

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