Diane Abbott warns of backlash from Tory MPs over plain packaging

16 Apr 2012
Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, comments on the launch of the plain packaging consultation:

‘The danger is that Andrew Lansley starts to wobble because of the backlash from Tory MPs, who generally do not support this, and the cabinet’s friends in big business, who will lobby against it. We have got to keep an eye on the pressure that ‘big tobacco’ will be putting on their allies in the Tory party once the consultation is launched.

‘The last Labour government made real progress on tobacco control, but one in five adults still smoke and hundreds of thousands of teenagers try smoking every year. It’s really important that Andrew Lansley just gets on with this. Part of the reason that plain packaging is needed is that it makes the pack less attractive and health warnings more prominent to children. Eight out of ten smokers start by the age of 19, and marketing is known to pull children into smoking. I think we’ve also ended up with a situation where lighter packaging colours are being used to suggest some products are healthier than others.

She urged the government to build on the successes of the last Labour government:

‘The last British Labour government showed leadership in bringing about real change on tobacco control. We introduced the smoking ban in pubs and enclosed spaces, ended sports sponsorship and billboard advertising, raised the legal age of purchasing cigarettes and put graphic warnings on cigarette packs. But doctors are right to remind us that smoking it is still the single biggest preventable cause of early death and illness and claims over thousands of lives every year.’


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