Government denies scrapping plan for plain tobacco packs

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The Department of Health has denied reports that the government is to scrap plans to force tobacco into plain packs.

Today The Sun claimed prime minister David Cameron had ordered the proposed law to be pulled from next week’s Queen’s Speech amid fears the policy could cost the exchequer £3bn in lost tax revenue as well as damaging the packaging industry.

Reports suggest the government wants to focus its efforts on legislation around promoting growth, welfare reform and immigration.

However a DH spokeswoman told The Grocer that a decision on plain packs had not yet been made.

“We have received many thousands of responses to the tobacco packaging consultation,” she said.

“The government has an open mind on this issue”

DH

“The government has an open mind on this issue and any decisions to take further action will be taken only after full consideration of the consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.”

However campaigners against the measure welcomed the reports.

“We welcome the news, if it’s true. Plain packaging has nothing to do with health. There is no evidence that it would make any difference to youth smoking rates but it could do enormous harm to small businesses, especially in packaging and retail,” said Simon Clark, director of smokers group Forest.

“We’re pleased that the prime minister has apparently recognised this and has listened to the hundreds of thousands of people who expressed their opposition to standardised packaging in the government consultation.”

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