Government postpones tobacco branding ban

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed he will not make a final decision on standardised packaging for tobacco brands, despite the lengthy public consultation, until "the impact of the decision in Australia" is understood.

Cigarettes: the Government defers decision on standardised packaging
Cigarettes: the Government defers decision on standardised packaging

The Government has said that the opinions gathered as part of the consultation, which had more than 668,000 responses, were highly polarised, with strong views put forward on both sides of the debate.

As a result, the Department of Health is waiting until the emerging impact of Australia’s decision to introduce plain packaging has been analysed. Australia implemented the ban on 1 December last year.

Hunt said: "The UK is known the world over for its comprehensive, evidence-based tobacco control strategy, and we are continually driving down smoking rates through our range of actions.

"Obviously, we take very seriously the potential for standardised packaging to reduce smoking rates, but in light of the differing views, we have decided to wait until the emerging impact of the decision in Australia can be measured, and then we will make a decision in England.

"This decision is an important one and whilst we keep it under review, we’ll be continuing to implement our existing plan to reduce smoking rates through ending the display of tobacco in all shops, running national behaviour-change campaigns to encourage smokers to quit and through supporting local authorities to provide effective stop-smoking services."

Hunt's predecessor Andrew Lansley launched the Government’s consultation into plain packaging in April last year. 


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