Thousands of independent retailers have responded to the government’s final short plain packaging consultation which closes at 11.45pm today.
It has been open for just six weeks – a fact which has been heavily criticised by tobacco manufacturers and retailers, particularly Muslims.
Suleman Khonat, retailer and national spokesman of the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) said: “The six week consultation ran during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, leaving Muslims only around 10 days free of their Ramadan commitments to be able to respond.
“Added to that, the Impact Assessment document connected to the consultation was only available in English. This means those not with English as a first language would struggle to have all the information at their fingertips required to respond fully.”
Retailers have until 11.45 to make their voice heard
Sign: A pro forma letter opposing the measure through the website www.noprimeminister.org.uk
Write: To local Members of Parliament at www.writetothem.com.
Despite the problems and short length of time, the TRA alone received over 3,700 letters and postcards from independent retailers concerned about the effects of plain tobacco packaging on their businesses.
They were delivered directly to the Department of Health (DoH) earlier this week. Many thousands more TRA letters and cards have been sent by retailers directly to the consultation.
A petition against plain packaging signed by more than 158,000 people was also submitted to the DoH by smokers group Forest.
Director Simon Clark said: “The response demonstrates the enormous level of opposition to this ill-conceived measure. We urge the Prime Minister to think again.
“There’s no evidence standardised packaging will have any health benefits. Advocates base their arguments not on facts but on speculation. There must be no rush to legislation. It’s a huge step and no government should take it lightly.”
In 2012, 425,000 people, including many retailers, opposed standardised packaging for tobacco products in a public consultation, with 238,000 supporting the policy.