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Doctors Turn Up The Heat on Ministers Over Plain Cigarette Packaging

June 11, 2014
Public Health

In a letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) prominent health experts have urged ministers to introduce plain cigarette packaging as soon as possible.

Back in April Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told parliament that she would introduce regulations by the end of the month but doctors claim little has happened since. With next year’s general election looming on the horizon and the government committed to a six week consultation period before informing the European Union of the draft regulations experts are concerned the whole process could take over six months to complete.

The letter which was signed by 600 doctors, nurses and other NHS professionals asks the government to confirm that, “regulations will be published in the next few weeks.” In response a spokesperson for the Department of Health said, “We are minded to introduce regulations for standardised packaging of tobacco products subject to a final short consultation so interested parties can give us their thoughts on the detailed proposal.”

A public consultation on the issue took place in 2012 followed by a report by Sir Cyril Chantler that studied evidence of how the scheme has worked in Australia. Both came out in overwhelming support of plain packaging.

The Republic of Ireland look set to become the first EU state to introduce plain packaging after the Irish Parliament the Seanad this week approved the publication of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014.