Plain cigarette packaging could add ‘mystique’, says MP

MP David Nuttall

MP David Nuttall

First published in News

A BURY MP says plain packaging for cigarettes could create a “mystique” and encourage more children to take up smoking.

Bury North MP David Nuttall was speaking after it was announced plain packaging would be introduced, following a government review which said it could cut the number of children smoking.

A report by paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler found strong evidence that children who are exposed to the advertising and promotion of cigarettes from a young age are more likely to take up smoking.

After his report, Mr Chantler said an introduction of plain packaging would be likely to contribute to a “modest but important” reduction in smoking.

However, Mr Nuttall said he believed this could create a forbidden fruit effect, and only increase the desire of children to experiment.

Plain packaging would feature purposefully unattractive packaging, without any branding or promotional information.

He said: “It is human nature, if something is put away and is in plain packaging it is given a mystique, it may make children more inquisitive.

“Of course it is already illegal, but my own view is we should enforce the current laws before we introduce anymore.”

Figures show that there are more than 30,000 smokers in Bury, and that smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in the town, accounting for more than 300 deaths a year.

Speaking in the House of Commons, public health minister Jane Ellison said the report made a strong case that plain packaging “would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health, and that the health benefits would include benefits for children.”

This is the latest in a line of government reforms aimed to prevent young people from smoking, including the decision in 2012 to force supermarkets to keep cigarettes and tobacco products hidden in closed cupboards.

However, this will not become law in newsagents and small stores until next year, and Mr Nuttall said the impacts of this should be assessed before plain packaging is introduced.

He added: “Let’s see how this works out before we try anything else. It is going to cost a lot of money, and compensation will have to be paid for taking the companies’ intellectual property rights.”

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