Government to launch plain tobacco packaging consultation

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The government is expected to launch its consultation on plain tobacco packaging this Monday April 16.

Retailers are likely to have 12 weeks to respond to the consultation, explaining exactly how plain packaging will affect their businesses in terms of service, cost, and the likely impact of the illicit trade.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has also pledged to provide a constructive view of the harm such a measure would impose on local shops.

Writing in his blog ahead of the launch, Mark Field, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, urged the party to “resist” the plans.

The “unjustified” plans would damage business and “should be stopped in their tracks,” he added.

“We shall have to await the detail naturally, but the Department of Health’s original consideration of the issue already appears to have settled upon a single option going forward, namely that of plain or generic packaging. In this way any distinguishing colours or branding would be prohibited. I fear this type of meddling will only fan the growing flames of anti-business rhetoric, at the very time that Conservatives should be dousing them,” he added.

“In addition, one has to question why we are rushing into this consultation when a ban on the display of tobacco products in shops has only just come into force for large shops, and is due to come into force on April 6 2015 for smaller shops. The display ban will place yet another burden on already hard-pressed retailers. Would it not be more sensible to examine the evidence as to whether this works first before we leap onto the bandwagon of yet more regulation?”

Plain packing legislation passed in Australia has been heavily criticised for the impact that it is likely to have on retailers. Subject to ongoing legal challenges, the measures are due to come into effect from December this year.

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