The government is reportedly planning legislation to impose plain packaging on all tobacco products.
Ministers are believed to be preparing measures to be announced in the Queen’s Speech in May.
If the move goes ahead, the UK would be following the lead of Australia, which imposed plain packaging on tobacco in December, and New Zealand, which introduced measures in February.
“The evidence suggests it is going to deter young smokers. There is going to be legislation,” a source told The Guardian.
A consultation on tobacco packaging by the Department of Health ended in August 2012. However, the DH remained coy on plans for legislation. “We have received many thousands of responses to the tobacco packaging consultation. We are currently in the process of carefully collating and analysing all the responses received,” a statement said.
“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.”
Research conducted by the University of Strathclyde for Cancer Research and published in March 2012 found that young people are more attracted to branded packaging. “Conversely plain cigarette packaging was perceived as unattractive, reduced emotional attachment to the packaging and enforced negative smoking attitudes among young people,” the report (PDF) said.
Tobacco companies have hit back against plain packaging plans. Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has in the past spoken out against the “flawed” debate on the issue. New boss Jorge Da Motta told The Grocer last week: “It is extremely important to us that more balance is brought to the tobacco debate to ensure there is greater public awareness of flawed policy making.”