Government to press ahead with pre-General Election vote on cigarette packaging

Plain cigarette packaging: MPs to vote for ban on branded tobacco packaging
Plain cigarette packaging: MPs to vote for ban on branded tobacco packaging

The Government is to push ahead with a vote on unbranded cigarette packaging before May's General Election, just a week after Labour accused David Cameron of being too close to "powerful vested interests" to ensure a health future for children.

The Government is to ask MPs to vote on the legislation before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the General Election.

If a majority votes yes, new regulations would come into force in 2016 in England, while it would be up to devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to hold their own votes.

The move comes just a week after Labour pointed out the Coalition had failed to introduce unbranded packaging, despite Tory promises in April 2014 to do so ahead of the election.

The Tories had already promised to ban images on packets if it were to win power.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said that legislation would likely have a positive impact on health, particularly on that of children.

She said "We cannot be complacent. We all know the damage smoking does to health. This government is completely committed to protecting children from the harm that tobacco causes."

While today’s news has been welcomed by health charities and medical professionals, pro-tobacco lobbying groups have argued that plain packaging regulations in Australia have failed to have an impact on smoking.

Meanwhile, Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted angrily:

Legislation requiring larger health warnings on packets, and a ban on flavoured cigarettes such as menthol, is due to come into effect in May 2016, when the European Tobacco Products Directive is enforced.

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