THE Hampshire-based president of Britain’s independent newsagents has welcomed government plans to shelve plain packet cigarettes.
Last year plans were agreed to standardise packets, so they would all be the same colour, with the same font and carry a prominent graphic warning against smoking.
It is hoped the change would deter younger smokers from taking up the habit.
But today, health secretary Jeremy Hunt postponed the plans, saying the Government wants to examine the effect in countries like Australia, which have similar laws.
The news has been welcomed by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents. whose Southampton-based president Colin Fletcher said: ‘Today’s announcement is a victory for common sense.
‘As responsible retailers, NFRN members have long supported government aims to improve public health by reducing smoking levels among minors, but it has long been our belief that standardised packaging is not the right way to go about this.
‘Indeed, it has always been a deep concern that putting tobacco into plain packaging would take trade away from legitimate retailers and place it in the hands of smugglers and counterfeiters who have no compunction as to who they sell to.
‘We have repeatedly challenged the Department of Health to think again about bringing in standardised packs and we are delighted that secretary Jeremy Hunt is now seeing sense.’
Sian Howells, team leader of stop smoking service PompeyQuit, said: ‘It’s disappointing, but not unexpected.
‘The disappointment is that with plain packaging, young smokers are less likely to become brand-loyal.
‘We have lots of young smokers in Portsmouth, and one of the things that gets them in to it, is image.
‘This delay is disappointing to discourage young smokers.
‘We are here to help those who do want to quit, we provide a free service.’
To find out more, call (023) 9236 9234, or visit solenthealthyliving.nhs.uk.