The UK government should follow Germany’s lead on tobacco control and invest in long-term educational programmes, rather than plain packaging plans, according to Imperial Tobacco.

In an open letter, Colin Wragg, Imperial Tobacco’s head of UK corporate and legal affairs, said: “After the recent House of Lords debate on proposed amendments to the Children & Families Bill on standardised packaging, it is our strongly held view that no public health benefits will be realised through the introduction of standardised packaging.

“The German tobacco control strategy has embedded education at its core; youth smoking levels have been in significant decline in Germany from 27.5% in 2001 to 11.7% in 2012. This reduction has been driven by best practice examples, regarding education on tobacco for German minors, provided by the German ministry for health. We believe that the government should focus on increasing long-term educational programmes and Germany’s success in this area should provide a template for the UK to follow in reducing youth smoking.

“This approach, coupled with the welcome government announcement to ban the proxy purchasing of tobacco in England and Wales will enable our law enforcement partners to reduce youth access to tobacco and strengthen their cause against both retailers and those attempting to purchase tobacco for others. These are the most effective methods of preventing children purchasing or accessing tobacco, therefore achieving the public health objectives that have long been desired by successive governments.”

Wragg also urged retailers to ”seize the moment” and speak to their local MPs about plain packaging ahead of the Chandler review being debated back in the House of Commons in late February.