Public smoking

The government’s consultation on draft regulations for plain tobacco packaging ends today (Thursday 7 August)

Campaigners opposed to the introduction of plain tobacco packaging have submitted more than 50,000 protest letters to the prime minister.

The letters were compiled by the Hands Off Our Packs (HOOPs) campaign, led by smokers’ group Forest, which also submitted a 105,000-strong petition against plain packaging to the Department of Health. Both were handed in on Thursday (7 August), the final day of the government’s latest plain packs consultation.

“The response demonstrates the enormous level of opposition to this ill-conceived measure. Before introducing plain packaging, ministers should wait and study the effectiveness of the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive that includes larger health warnings,” said Forest director Simon Clark.

“There is concern that if plain packaging is introduced for tobacco, the same could happen to alcohol, sugary drinks and confectionery.”

In its submission, the Association of Convenience Stores warned that small stores would pay a heavy price if the government pushed ahead with its plans.

Unbranded products would make them more difficult to differentiate, increasing handling and transaction times and potentially driving customers away, it said.

Public affairs director Shane Brennan added this would affect c-stores disproportionately. “Speed of service is crucial in convenience stores and this will slow each transaction by a few seconds.” It was also likely to drive down the average value of tobacco sales, added Brennan.