After carefully considering the evidence for standardised packaging, and other relevant information, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison confirmed on 21 January that the Government backs the public health case for introducing the policy. Ministers in the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will need to confirm whether they consent to the regulations applying to those parts of the UK.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said:
Smoking remains one of our most significant public health challenges. It is a major cause of cancer, heart and respiratory disease and almost 80,000 people in England alone die every year from ill health caused by smoking. It places an enormous strain on the NHS.
Having considered all the evidence, the Secretary of State and I believe that the policy is a proportionate and justified response to the considerable public health harm from smoking tobacco. The Chief Medical Officer has confirmed this view.
I now propose that we lay regulations for standardised packaging in this parliament to allow for them to come into force at the same time as the European Tobacco Products Directive in May 2016. In doing so we would be bringing the prospect of our first smoke-free generation one step closer.
The proposed regulations, published in draft form as part of the last consultation, would standardise the packaging of all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco for retail sale by:
- specifying mandatory colours for retail packaging (dull brown for the outside and white for the inside)
- permitting only specified text (such as the brand and variant name) and making sure any permitted text conforms to particular requirements
- allowing required markings such as health warnings and fiscal marks (including covert markings and any future requirements that may be introduced to tackle illicit trade) to remain in place
The European Tobacco Products Directive will bring in a wider range of tobacco control measures, including larger picture health warnings, and ban on flavourings, including menthol, and packaging controls to combat illicit trade.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said; "I welcome the Government's backing for this policy. I have reviewed the evidence, and agree that standardised packaging would be a positive move for public health, particularly the role it could play in helping to prevent the uptake of smoking by children.
"We have seen smoking rates decline, but smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable mortality. We need to keep up our efforts on tobacco control and standardised packaging is an important part of that."
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) response to the announcement
Responding to the news that the government is to ensure that a vote takes place on plain cigarette packaging before the next election, Professor Jane Dacre, President of the Royal College of Physicians said:
'We warmly welcome this announcement. Evidence is clear that 600 children begin smoking every day in the UK, and we know that they are susceptible to branding of cigarettes. This announcement provides real progress in the fight to reduce children's exposure to tobacco branding, making the marketing of tobacco products much less effective.
Along with the vote earlier in the year in favour of legislation to introduce a ban on smoking in cars with children, which the RCP called for as long ago as April 2010, this news will start the process of taking smoking completely out of children's lives.
Supported by the strong evidence from the introduction of plain pack in Australia, the RCP has spoken for a number of years on the potential public health benefits plain packs could have in the UK.
This is an important public health measure and MPs now need to vote in favour of plain packaging on tobacco products. Smoking related diseases still kill thousands of patients each week in our NHS - that is why there can be no further delay on this vitally important decision.
We are one step closer towards a tobacco-free UK.'
The British Heart Foundation response to the announcement
The British Heart Foundation has warmly welcomed news from the Government that regulations on standardised tobacco packaging will be put to the vote in Parliament before the May general election.
If approved, the new legislation would see tobacco products stripped of their colourful packaging in a bid to prevent future generations from taking up smoking.
Plans to make standardised packaging law have received overwhelming support from the public , health professionals  and politicians in both the House of Lords and House of Commons and have been backed by evidence in the 2014 Chantler review.
Standardised tobacco packaging was introduced in Australia in December 2012. Research commissioned by the BHF shows the new policy has made tobacco products less attractive to smokers and ex-smokers in Australia, and made health warnings on packaging more noticeable. 
Mike Hobday, Director of Policy at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We are absolutely delighted. The Government has taken another key step towards securing new legislation that will help protect young people from the deadly consequences of smoking.
"Standardised packaging is already working in Australia to make smoking less attractive to the public by stripping tobacco products of the colourful packets that make them so appealing. It is right that we do everything in our power to emulate that success here and relinquish the power tobacco companies have over young people in the UK.
"In the run-up to the final vote we would urge all MPs and Peers to give this important public health reform their full support."
 A poll on the issue by YouGov, conducted for ASH in March 2014, found that overall 64% of adults in Great Britain were in favour of standardised packaging.
 Standardised packaging is backed by the Smokefree Action Coalition, an alliance of over 250 organisations including the British Heart Foundation, Royal College of Physicians, British Medical Association and Cancer Research UK.
 Standardised Packaging for Tobacco Products, 2014
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) response to the announcement
Public health experts have given a very warm welcome to the Government announcement that it will put Regulations on the standardised "plain" packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products to a vote in Parliament before the General Election. The move to prevent cigarettes being sold in glitzy packaging will help protect the next generation of children and young people from starting to smoke. Two thirds of current smokers started when children, and half of all lifetime smokers will die from smoking related disease. 
ASH believes that there is a strong majority in both Houses of Parliament for the Regulations. In July 2013, a cross Party group of peers tabled an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to give the Government powers to make Regulations on standardised packaging. On 28th November 2013 the Government announced that it would table its own amendment to the Bill (now Section 94 of the Children and Families Act 2014). This amendment was passed overwhelmingly in both the House of Lords (nem con) and House of Commons (only 24 MPs voted against). The policy is also popular with the public. 
Ministers have resisted strong lobbying from the tobacco industry  and a small minority of MPs. Claims have been made that standardised packaging will lead to more illicit tobacco - although all the key security features on current packaging will be included on standard packs. The tobacco industry has also made a series of false or grossly misleading claims about the effect of standard packs in Australia - the first country in the world to introduce the policy. The Australian Government has reported that the number of cigarettes bought per person has in fact fallen. Total consumption of cigarettes and tobacco in the first quarter of 2014 was the lowest ever, and the Australian "National Drug Strategy Household Survey" for 2013/14 showed that the proportion of daily smokers aged 14 years or older in Australia fell from 16.6% in 2007 to 12.8% in 2013. 
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:
"We are delighted that the government has resisted tobacco industry pressure and plans to pass the regulations that will bring standardised "plain" packaging into effect in this parliament. Every day hundreds of children start to smoke. Standard packs mean that the tobacco industry cannot use glitzy packaging to help addict the next generation. Standard packs are backed by the public, health professionals and an overwhelming majority of MPs. They have the potential to save many thousands of lives.
We won't be taking anything for granted in the run-up to the final vote, but we think that the great majority of MPs and Peers will vote for the Regulations. If the Regulations are indeed passed into law, this will be the most important public health reform of this Parliament. We are very grateful to the MPs, peers, health professionals and members of the public who have worked so hard for this victory."
 See Smoking Statistics, Action on Smoking and Health, January 2015
 A poll on the issue by YouGov, conducted for ASH in March 2014, found that overall 64% of adults in England were in favour of standardised packaging. There was majority support across age groups, genders and social classes. This data comes from the following YouGov survey carried out for ASH. Total sample size was 10112 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 5th and the 14th March 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England adults (aged 18+).
 For example, the tobacco multinational JTI spent at least £2 million on advertising against standardised packaging, and produced a series of six national newspaper advertisements, all of which were subsequently ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority.
 Tobacco Key Facts and Figures, Australian Department of Health, updated 10th December 2014