THE CRUCIAL decision on whether tobacco products should be sold in plain packs looks set to be made in 2012.

The Department of Health has announced a UK-wide consultation on plain packaging will take place in the spring, and that it will involve ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and will be accompanied by an independent evidence review.

Anti smoking campaigners argue that putting tobacco products in plain packaging will make them far less attractive to consumers, particularly young people as well as making the health warnings stand out more. But tobacco companies argue that the move will make counterfeit cigarettes much harder to spot.

In Australia, tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris has launched a legal challenge over the Government’s plans to introduce plain tobacco packaging from next year.

Small stores in the UK believe it would place a huge burden on their businesses if tobacco was to be sold in plain packs – on top of the impending tobacco display ban, currently due to be introduced for small shops in 2015.