Public health minister says review commissioned after decision was postponed last year makes compelling case for change
|Smokers' choice: cigarettes on display in a shop. Photograph: Alex Segre/Alamy|
The government is to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, after a detailed review of the evidence concluded that thousands fewer children would take up smoking if the packets were unbranded and less attractive.
The public health minister Jane Ellison told the House of Commons that the Chantler review, commissioned by the government after it postponed a decision on plain packs, "makes a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced, it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health".
She said she would be introducing draft regulations "so it is crystal clear what we intend", and would announce the details shortly.
Her particular concern was the take-up of smoking by children, and this was the issue Sir Cyril Chantler was asked to focus on in his review. Each day in the UK around 60 children start smoking, and many of those are likely to grow up with a nicotine addiction they would find hard to break. If smoking take-up was reduced by 2%, 4,000 fewer children a year would develop the habit.
Ellison said the chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, had seen the report and backed the proposal to introduce plain packs.
The government postponed a decision on plain packaging last summer, provoking a political storm when it emerged that a lobbying company run by David Cameron's election guru Lynton Crosby had helped a major tobacco company with its marketing strategies.