Wath-based MEP Linda McAvan has welcomed the government’s decision today to think again about its position on the plain packaging of cigarettes.
The Labour politician, Europe’s lead negotiator on tobacco laws, said this will be the second time the coalition government has U-turned on the issue of plain packaging, having surprised politicians and health organisations alike, when it dropped plans to adopt the measure earlier in the year.
The MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber said: “Nearly 50 per cent of smokers will die from a smoking related disease and tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable premature deaths across Europe.
“Nearly 14,000 children between the ages of 11-15 are regular smokers in Yorkshire and the Humber alone, and the introduction of plain packaging could go a long way towards making smoking less attractive to the next generation.”
The news comes after a vote in the European Parliament last month which agreed to 65 per cent of tobacco packaging covered with graphic health warnings, as well as a ban on flavourings and slim cigarette packets that mimic perfume and lipstick cases, whilst leaving the door open for member countries to go further still.
The proposals aim to make smoking less attractive to young people and prevent the tobacco industry from targeting their products at younger smokers.
Linda added: “I hope that the government can now move forward without the need for further costly delays. Its estimated that two children start smoking every hour in Yorkshire and we cannot allow this to carry on.”