News & Comment

Health Secretary has "open" mind about plain packaging but doesn't see smoking as "part of life"

Monday 16th April 2012, posted by forest

Launching the UK government's public consultation on plain packaging, health secretary Andrew Lansley said he had an "open" mind about the measure.

"We are going to consult on whether we think it will work," he told ITV's Daybreak.

A few days earlier Lansley told the Times that the government did not work with tobacco companies as it wanted them to have "no business" in the UK. The previous week he said, in interviews: "We no longer see smoking as a part of life".

In a statement, Lansley said: "Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health.

"Each year it accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK and one in two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking disease.

"That is why the health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives that might encourage smokers to quit and stop young people taking up smoking in the first place.

"Through the forthcoming consultation we want to hear as many views as possible about whether tobacco packing should remain unchanged, plain packaging should be adopted or a different option should be considered."

Simon Clark, director of Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, said:

"The consultation on plain packaging threatens to be a farce. Andrew Lansley says he is "open minded" yet he clearly supports plain packagingeven before the consultation has begun.

"Hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money has been spent in one region alone trying to persuade people to support plain packaging.Government is effectively using taxpayers' money to lobby itself. This scandalous abuse of public money must stop now.

"The consultation on plain packaging has nothing to do with health. It's all about Andrew Lansley. The health secretary is using the consultation to curry favour with health professionals, many of whom are less than impressed with the changes he is making to the NHS.

"He possibly believes that by extending the war on tobacco he will buy himself some time to win their support.

"Plain packaging is another step towards the denormalisation of a legal product. It is yet another attack on ten million consumers.

"Despite our cynicism about the consultation we urge consumers and retailers to make their voices heard and help defend Britain from excessive regulation."

Sources: Daily Mail (16 April 2012), BBC News (13 April 2012)


A. Smoker
Posted on
"We are going to consult on whether we think it will work,"

Ahh, nothing like EVIDENCE based policy then, let's pay someone loads to tell us that it will work.
Then spend an obscene amount of money pushing it through, after all, we've got loads of that to go around haven't we!

What a pointless bunch of (insert expletives here) we seem to have running the country (all 3 of them) - no wonder why it's going down the pan.

I for one don't even buy my tobacco/cigars/cigarettes in the UK any more, makes much more sense to go to Holland for instance where it's about 1/2 price form the UK, flight is only £100 - free holiday :) where you can still smoke inside also.
Ian Llornam
Posted on
It is with a sense of absolute incredulity that I read the UK Government's "proposal" on plain packaging. It smacks of an absolute foregone conclusion dressed in a "proposal's" clothes if one is to apply any degree of logical construction of the Secretrary's latest words.
This an astonishing attack on basic corporate freedom. It constitutes a blatant encroachment by the UK Government on the rights of intellectual property holders who must already pay handsomely to protect those rights. This is not about smoking, tobacco companies or smokers. And the public should not be duped into believing it is so. This is, quite simply, a further example of a government's 'Carte blanche' attitude to it's position. A government must not be unnecessarily hamstrung in governing by outside regulation - and there is, perhaps an argument for another day with regard to the multidude of EU censures imposed upon and accepted by the government on the basis of 'human rights'. However, neither does a government have an unfettered hand in governance and a purported "public consultation" should be carefully monitored. Such consultation for the sake of consultation does not sit well.
Posted on
What is the point of plain packaging when the cigarettes are hidden behind doors anyway? It's just going to lead to a lot of confusion and dissatisfaction, with shop assistants having to take twice as long to serve customers and smokers taking their packets back because they've got the wrong one. I know the Government don't give a damn about smokers, but they ought to spare a thought for the poor assistants!
Posted on
I'd never considered that Cathy until just now. As by 2015 no cigarettes will be displayed in shops there seems no sense in plain packaging as knowone will see them anyway. Your right it's just the government being spiteful and making smoker's lives even less easy, nothing to do with health or children.
Justin Canham
Posted on
Plain packaging is clearly wrong. It doesn't convey enough information to deter smokers. Graphic images of the results of smoking are preferable.
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