Almost a quarter of a million people have signed a petition demanding the government drops plans to force tobacco into plain packaging.

Campaigners at Hands Off Our Packs today delivered a petition with 235,000 signatures to the Department of Health.

“Plain packaging is not about health,” said campaign chief Angela Harbutt. “It’s about de-normalising a legal product and stigmatising millions of consumers.

“People aren’t stupid. They know that if tobacco is sold in dull, drab packs then alcohol, fast food and fizzy drinks will also be targeted. Over 200,000 people have spoken and the message is clear: plain packaging is not welcome in Britain.”

The government’s public consultation on plain packaging closes on 10 August, having been extended by a month beyond its original proposed run.