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UK Govt. may force tobacco companies to package cigarettes in plain wrappers

By Abdul Nisar

London, Nov 21 (ANI): Tobacco companies could soon be forced to sell cigarette in plain brown wrappers, as a part of the UK Government's effort to stop young people picking up habit.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is reportedly investigating the viability of introducing what would be one of the most radical public health measures ever implemented in the UK.

The Guardian quoted Lansley, as saying: "We have to try new approaches and take decisions to benefit the population. That's why I want to look at the idea of plain packaging. The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It's wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets."

He further emphasised that the need to prevent children from starting to smoke was his primary motive his initiative to implement the ban.

"We would prefer it if people did not smoke, and adults will still be able to buy cigarettes [even if plain packs come in], but children should be protected from the start," Lansley added.

Meanwhile, senior doctors have reportedly welcomed the potential ban on colours and logos on packets, saying that it could prove to be as effective as the 2007 public smoking ban. However, ministers are likely to face a legal challenge if they go ahead.

The paper quoted a spokesman for the British Medical Association, as saying: "We are very pleased that the health secretary supports the plain packaging of cigarettes. There is clear evidence that young people find packaging appealing. And we know that the tobacco industry spends huge amounts on this clever marketing to enhance their brands and increase sales."

Organisations like the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), and Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), have urged the government to go ahead with the planned ban shops selling cigarettes openly, irrespective of whether it introduces plain packets, the paper said.

Under legislation passed under Labour, the point of sale ban is due to be phased in from next year, but the coalition has not yet decided whether they should carry on with the prevision government's recommendation. (ANI)

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