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When The Guardian announced ‘Government to legislate for plain cigarette packaging this year’ last Wednesday, my first thought was it must be true. The quality press doesn’t take punts on such matters.
Developments over the past week, however, show the case isn’t so clear. The tobacco industry has widely denied the story, backed by David Cameron, who said no decision has been made on plain packaging. Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour has gone quiet on the subject, and his source has been accused of possible criminal behaviour by one economist for the story’s damage to tobacco share prices.
Simon Clark, a director of pro-tobacco group Forest, points the finger at government-funded anti-smoking lobby group Ash. History could be repeating itself, he blogged last week, after Ash boasted of pulling off a confidence trick when MPs voted overwhelmingly for a ban on smoking in public paces in 2006.
This week RN investigates the impact of plain packaging three months on in Australia. Nine out of 10 Australian retailers say transaction times have increased, which is having a detrimental effect on the running of their businesses. Conservative MP Priti Patel has told RN that there has been no retailer angle raised in parliament, so it is now more important than ever to make your case to your MP. RN has written to its MP Emily Thornberry stating plain packs will further encourage criminal gangs. A one-click service for doing the same is available at No2plainpacks.org. As the government has been forced to state that no decision has been made on plain packaging, it will be under pressure to prove this and listen to those that correspond with it. Make sure it’s you.
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