The government’s consultation on draft regulations for plain tobacco packs closes today. Here’s what traders and health groups had to say.

John Lee, policy manager at The Scottish Grocers’ Federation:

“The proposals to criminalise retailers are totally disproportionate. The ‘enforcement’ provisions of the draft regulations outline custodial sentences of three months for cases before a lower court and two years for any cases appearing before a higher court. Fixed penalty notices are surely the most appropriate initial sanction.

“In Scotland we have the additional sanction of a tobacco banning order which is the most appropriate way of dealing with persistent offenders. The Department of Health must drastically rethink these proposals.”

George Butterworth, tobacco control manager at Cancer Research UK:

“Over 50 scientific studies have shown standardised packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco products to children. With major drops in Australian smoking rates since standard packs were introduced, the case has more than been made that this vital health measure should be introduced without delay.”

Paul Baxter, chief executive of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents:

“Evidence from Australia is showing that standardised packaging increases consumption of illicit tobacco. Not only is this bad news for legitimate retailers but for public finances and most importantly, public health.

“The government should put this policy on the back burner and look at how it can work with all parties to tackle smoking among children.”

Deborah Arnott chief executive of health charity ASH:

“Plain standard tobacco packs work in Australia and will work here too. Retailers shouldn’t allow themselves to be misled by the tobacco industry, there’s been no increase in smuggling in Australia, it’s just as easy to find the right pack, and although consumption is going down it’s happening slowly so it’s not difficult for retailers to adjust.”

John McClurey, an independent newsagent and member of Gateshead Council:

“Traders like me are well aware of the tiny profit from tobacco products. I make similar profit from a pack of chewing gum as a £6 pack of cigarettes. What my customers save by quitting or never starting to smoke, they can spend on other goods or services. Standardised packs would cause no confusion or extra costs for small businesses like mine and frankly I would much rather sell birthday cards than sympathy cards.”

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