A group of more than 120 independent retailers, cross party MPs and trade association leaders from across the UK have united in protest against the government’s decision to proceed with plain packaging.
The London rally was chaired by Conservative MP for Enfield North Nick Du Bois along with Labour MP for Bradford South Jerry Sutcliff, NFRN president Martyn Brown and Tobacco Retailers Alliance national spokesman Suleman Khonat.
Dressed in ‘No Plain Pack’ T Shirts and with their faces covered by plain white facemasks, the group descended on the Department of Health where a joint letter was delivered to health minister Jane Ellison.
The group then went into the House of Commons where they spoke with MPs who are due to participate in a free vote on plain packaging in the next couple of weeks.
Addressing the group prior to the rally, Du Bois urged retailers to redouble their efforts to educate their customers and local MPs about the damaging impacts of plain packaging.
The plain packaging plans were “feel good legislation, not good policy legislation” he said.
“What I don’t like as a Conservative and a legislator is bad, ill-thought-out legislation.
“This government has been known to change its mind when faced with bad legislation and we should use all the tools that we have at our disposal to try and make that change happen again.
“My advice to you is to come together, lobby your MPs, speak with one voice. You can’t be sure of what might happen. We are a demographic country, use the tools at your disposal to try and change the agenda,” he said.
The NFRN is currently sending out packs to all of its members which will help them mount their own “last chance saloon” campaigns in the final weeks ahead of the vote.
Packs include badges and posters to raise awareness of plain packaging amongst shoppers, as well as a pro forma letter and postcards for shoppers to sign and send back to the Chancellor.