Labour MEPs are calling on the government to introduce so-called plain packaging for cigarettes as soon as possible, joining with a number of health charities and NGOs to say “delays cost lives”. 

“Over the last few years the industry has been particularly targeting young women with super-slim, feminine packets which look more like boxes for lipstick or perfume than for a dangerous and addictive drug.  Standardising packs would end this practice,” said Local Euro MP, Arlene McCarthy.

 Arlene who is a supporter of the Smoke Free North West Campaign said: “Two thirds of current smokers started smoking before they were 18 and 83% started before they were 20. Unlike regular smokers, young people who haven’t yet tried tobacco are not drawn to it by a physical addiction.  Instead they are attracted to tobacco solely by the image and the idea of smoking,”

The government consultation on standardising tobacco packaging; replacing all branding and colours with large pictorial health warnings, was due to close today Tuesday 10th July.  However the deadline has now been extended for another month. 

“I hope people take advantage of this extra time to share their views with the government, who must take swift action once the consultation closes,” she said.

 Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and kills one in two regular smokers.

Tobacco advertising has been banned from billboards, TV, films, newspapers, radio, magazines, racing cars, sportswear and at the point of sale.  Plain packaging would simply complete the ban,” she said.

The government will be considering national legislation at the same time as the European Parliament revises the internal market rules on tobacco packaging.  It is possible that plain packaging could be rolled out across Europe.

“Having the same rules across all 27 EU countries would simplify trade for retailers and manufacturers, and make the rules easier to enforce in the UK.  Most importantly, however, it would protect 500 million European citizens from misleading tobacco marketing,” she said