The Scottish government has reaffirmed its commitment to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.
Speaking to members of the Scottish Grocer’s Federation (SGF), Scotland’s minister for public health Michael Matheson MSP said it was prepared to “go it alone” on plain packaging, should Westminster decide to “water down” its plans.
Plain packaging “would be introduced” and retailers would “simply have to adjust” to it, Matheson told SGF president Abdul Majid and chief executive John Drummond.
However, implementation in 2015 was unlikely, and he would consider a long lead-in time to allow retailers to sell-through their existing stock, he added.
Matheson also disputed the claim that plain packaging would worsen the illicit tobacco trade - a position that the SGF strongly disagrees with.
Chief executive John Drummond said: “It was a very constructive meeting with the minister and we were encouraged by the fact that he is willing to take into account the operational difficulties retailers will face. However, we feel that plain packaging will only make the illicit trade worse, and we will continue to address this through our work with Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Group,” he added.