News & Comment

Plain packaging? No, prime minister!

Tue 27th May, 2014

Important message to opponents of plain packaging from Forest director Simon Clark: 

Eights weeks ago, on April 3, public health minister Jane Ellison announced the Government was "minded" to introduce plain packaging of tobacco.

Her statement followed the publication of the Chantler Review, a report whose many flaws I highlighted on my blog. Government would publish regulations and there would be a "final short consultation", added Ellison. 

Anticipating this outcome Forest built a new micro site that allows opponents of plain packaging to send a letter to David Cameron, the architect of the mess the Government has got itself into.

We intended to launch it to coincide with the start of the "final short consultation". Instead there has been a deafening (and welcome!) silence from government – apart from a brief comment by David Cameron in response to a question from Labour MP Alex Cunningham – which left us with a great campaign tool but no peg on which to promote it.

Well, we can't wait any longer. There is speculation that in order to demonstrate its commitment to plain packaging, appease the Lib Dems and get Labour off his back, the prime minister will include the policy in next week's Queen's Speech.

We are therefore asking you to visit the No Prime Minister website today and send the following letter to Number Ten. It reads:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to express my opposition to plain packaging of tobacco.

A four-month government consultation in 2012 resulted in over 665,000 responses, with a substantial majority (427,888) opposed to the policy. I urge you to respect the outcome of that consultation which members of the public responded to in good faith.

There is no credible evidence that children start smoking because of the packaging, or that 'plain' packaging will deter children from smoking. Speculation and conjecture are no substitute for hard facts.

Before pressing ahead with legislation I urge you to wait until government has studied the impact of the tobacco display ban, which will not be fully implemented until 2015, and the introduction of larger health warnings which are being introduced in 2016 as part of the EU's revised Tobacco Products Directive.

Sincerely,

I imagine you are fed up having your views ignored by the mainstream parties, which is why so many people voted (or were tempted to vote) for Ukip last week.

Nevertheless, I urge you to support this initiative and make your views known – again. We must not give up or other products will surely follow – alcohol, sugary drinks, convenience food – together with more policies designed to denormalise a legal consumer product.

To visit the No Prime Minister website click here.

Please do it NOW! It takes less than a minute to enter your details and submit the letter.

PS. I can reveal that although the No Prime Minister website is only now being officially launched it has been live and accessible to visitors to the Hands Off Our Packs and Forest websites for several weeks.

In that time THOUSANDS of people have consented to write to David Cameron. Please follow their example and add your name to a list that is growing every day.

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