Despite enabling legislation being passed by MPs in February, the Department of Health has again refused to be drawn on when regulations will be introduced to implement standardised packaging for tobacco products and a ban on smoking in cars when children are present, leading Alex Cunningham to accuse the Government of a neglectful failure to protect public health.
With overwhelming evidence in support of such moves to limit advertising and the potential for exposure to deadly tobacco smoke, the Government confirmed in response to written Parliamentary Questions that further consultations will take place before a final decision is made.
Labour’s Stockton North MP has been a vociferous campaigner for the introduction of such tobacco control measures, and has laid blame on the Government for condemning yet more young people to the harm that is likely to arise as a direct result of further delaying the publishing of the necessary regulations.
“Every year, more than 200,000 people under the age of 16 take up this deadly habit. This is 200,000 too many, and if plain packaging even halves this number of new young smokers, it would have a major impact on many lives.
“The recent review by Sir Cyril Chantler is just the latest in a long line of studies published that support measures on standardised packaging, consistently reporting that such measures would reduce the appeal of tobacco products and increase the effectiveness of health warnings.
“By failing to act quickly, the Government is putting the health young people in jeopardy. These additional delays will see thousands more children take up a habit that kills half of long-term users than would have been the case had the Government acted swiftly.
“With the Prime Minister’s misinformed statement during PMQs last week, and the Public Health Minister’s inability to give a clear indication of the projected timeframe for the introduction of the necessary regulations, I find myself questioning the sincerity of the Government’s commitment to tobacco control.
“To this end, I have written to David Cameron asking him to clarify his position and to confirm when we can expect to see regulations brought forward.”