Following mounting pressure for the Government to commit to introducing standardised tobacco packaging, ASH is calling on the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to stand up to the tobacco industry by ensuring there is time for a final vote on the regulations to take place before the General Election. A full ASH Media Briefing on the issue is available here.
According to a report in The Observer (28th December), nearly 4,000 doctors and other health professionals have signed a letter published in the British Medical Journal health challenging Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to promise that Parliament will get the chance to vote on Regulations introducing standardised packaging before the General Election. Meanwhile MPs and peers are concerned at possible moves inside Government to delay the Regulations so that they run out of Parliamentary time. Paul Burstow MP, Chair of the All Party Group on Smoking and Health, has written to the Health Secretary pointing out that standardised packaging has overwhelming support in both Houses of Parliament. In the letter to the BMJ, the doctors insist that the notification of the draft regulations to the European Union should not be used as an excuse for delay and that the matter is now one of political will.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:
"Standardised packaging will help stop the next generation from starting to smoke. Two in three smokers start before they are adults, and one in two lifetime smokers will die from smoking-related disease. So this is a vitally important public health reform, and it has overwhelming support from the public and MPs. It will be a disaster if the Regulations run out of time in this Parliament, and it will be the direct responsibility of the Prime Minister and Health Secretary."