The lack of standardized packs legislation for cigarettes in this week’s Queen’s speech was welcomed by cigarette makers – as supporters believed it still had political support.
Its omission, together with any reference of minimum unit pricing on alcohol, was noticed by many as evidence the authorities had forgotten the measures.
“It demonstrates that the regulatory rules of evidence-based policy, not policy-based evidence, are being seen,” said a JTI spokesman.
Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco reiterated states there was little proof standardized packaging discouraged the younger generation from smoking, and that plain packages would expand the illegal trade of tobacco products.
The implementation of standardized packs with health warning labels would have been unacceptable before the authorities had examined submissions created in the course of the consultation process, they said.
Nevertheless, further clarity was required, cautioned an ACS spokesman. “Regardless of what the speculation around the Queen’s Speech suggests, they have still not formally replied to that consultation,” he said.
“We would welcome clarity that they have certainly made the decision not to continue with legislation in this area.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the non-appearance of a Bill did not mean the authorities had determined not to introduce legislation.
A DH spokeswoman also pointed out no decision had been made, saying that it was still considering data from the consultation, as well as “closely watching what is happening all over the world and spending some time needed to evaluate the data correctly”.
A spokeswoman for the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said: “The door is still open for legislation, which gives explanation to continue the campaign.”
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