Labour will fight for plain packaging on cigarettes
06 Mar 2012Diane Abbott, the Shadow Public Health Minister, comments on Andrew Lansley’s speech on smoking today at the Royal College of Physicians:
‘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. Nationally Labour made real progress on smoking, but it is still the single biggest preventable cause of early death and illness and claims over 80,000 lives a year.
‘The problem is that Andrew Lansley has completely lost the confidence of his own government, healthcare professionals and the public on improving the country’s health.
‘What we have seen from this government on public health has been closer to the ‘chaos theory’ than the ‘nudge theory’. Local authorities still do not know exactly how much public health funding they are going to get, and there is still no clarity on who will be commissioning a range of public health services.
‘If we are to discourage children from ever starting smoking, we need to look at the marketing of a highly addictive and seriously harmful product. For every step we take, the tobacco industry takes a new approach. After we banned advertising, tobacco manufacturers developed increasingly sophisticated marketing devices for their packaging.
‘Labour is clear that the next front in this fight should be packaging. I want to assure Andrew Lansley today that he will have Labour’s support if he wants to make early progress on this front.’