22/01/2015

Call For Plain Tobacco Packaging

Health Minister Jim Wells has been called upon to push for standardised cigarette packaging in Northern Ireland, ahead of a Westminster vote on the issue expected in May.

The proposals would see the removal of branding on all cigarette packaging sold in the UK. The new law could be in force as early as 2016.

Wales has voted to accept Westminster legislation on the matter, with Scotland and Northern Ireland also expected to vote on whether to back the proposals.

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan welcomed the move and said that he would "urge Health Minister Jim Wells to follow suit.
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"The more compatible, comparable and consistent the legislation is across these islands the better – not least in terms of counterfeiting," he said. "Cigarette packaging is one of the last forms of marketing that tobacco companies can still use to attract new customers. Indeed, Australia is leading the way in stopping people from becoming addicted to smoking.

"If we care about the health of people in our community then we should introduce plain, standardised packaging as soon as possible, and help stop the next generation of smokers being recruited."

Alliance Health spokesperson Kieran McCarthy MLA said: "I am very pleased that proposals to introduce plain cigarette packaging in England have been brought forward and I hope all MPs will support it. It is now imperative that the Health Minister introduces similar plans in Northern Ireland.

"We have seen several different initiatives in recent years to reduce the level of smoking, such as removing cigarette displays in shops and the smoking ban. I believe that plain packaging must also be adopted.

"We must do all that is possible to encourage more people to give up smoking to improve the public's health, as well as reducing the strain on our hospitals."

(IT/MH)

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