Support for plain cigarette packaging blows cold

Doubt was cast yesterday on the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes after the Government gave the idea only lukewarm support.

Plain brown or white cigarette packs carrying nothing but a health warning have been widely promoted by the anti-smoking lobby as an important measure to deter young smokers from adopting the habit that kills 80,000 people a year.

Brightly coloured logos are seen as an important way in which tobacco manufacturers market their products to new smokers who may be unfamiliar with the different brands.

But in a report published on No Smoking Day yesterday, the Government offered only muted backing for the idea, committing to "consult on options to reduce the promotional impact of tobacco packaging, including plain packaging, before the end of 2011".

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, described the announcement as a "big relief" for the tobacco companies which had expected tougher measures. In a briefing for investors, they noted several caveats in the report, including the Government's acknowledgement that it needed "evidence that plain packaging would have an additional public health benefit," the "likely impact on the illicit tobacco market" [plain packs are easier to counterfeit] and the need to explore "competition, trade and legal implications".

The ban on the display of cigarettes in shops, introduced by the former Labour government, has also been delayed by six months for large shops, to April 2012, and by 18 months for small shops, until April 2015. Government targets to reduce smoking among adults from 21.2 per cent to 18.5 per cent by the end of 2015 were "not aggressive" and implied no reduction in cigarettes sold, after allowing for population growth, they said.

The proposals were welcomed by health organisations, but the Royal College of Physicians criticised the delay to the ban on shop displays. It said "urgent measures" were required if the new target to reduce smoking was to be met.

Professor John Britton, chairman of the college's Tobacco Advisory Group, said: "The Government has accepted that legislation is needed [on shop displays], so we fail to see why its implementation has been pushed back."

The Association of Convenience Stores protested that the measure would cost £40m to implement, and there was no evidence it would work.

Several countries, including Canada, Ireland, Iceland and Finland, have introduced similar shop display bans.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said the delay to the display ban was "very disappointing," but plain packaging would be "a giant leap forward". He said: "Research shows that plain packaging reduces false beliefs about how harmful different tobacco products are. We also know that plain packs are less attractive, especially to young people, and they make the health warnings on cigarette packets more effective."

If proposals to put cigarettes in plain, unbranded packs are given the green light by the Government, the UK would become the first country in Europe to make such a move. Australia is due to introduce plain packs in 2012. The British Heart Foundation described the measures as "a victory for public health". Treating smoking-related illnesses costs the NHS more than £50m a week.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Voices
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas