It is seven months since the Department of Health’s consultation on the plain packaging of tobacco products. The DoH received an remarkable 500,000 responses in opposition to the proposals, but it appears that legislation to bring plain packaging of tobacco and cigarettes and other tobacco products will come before parliament later this year.

I think it’s time to write to my MP again.

Below is my letter.  If you feel the same about this issue then I urge you to do something similar.

Dear Mr Hames

 

It has been reported that following the consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco the Department of Health will be putting a Bill before Parliament to bring plain packaging of tobacco to Great Britain.

 

I am sure that you are aware that plain (standardised) packaging was not included in any election manifesto in 2010 and was rejected by the previous government in 2008 on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support such a policy. Nothing has happened since then that could possibly justify a change of policy under the current Government. Quite the opposite, in fact.

 

It is particularly disappointing to hear that the Department of Health has ignored police officers, both retired and serving, who expressed concerns that standardised packaging will encourage organised crime.

 

These views are shared by many small retailers and former independent store owners like myself. As I told you when we met last year my wife and I were victims of tobacco crime and the very unpleasant experience significantly disrupted our lives. Recently published data on how the tobacco market is becoming increasingly criminalised suggest that 26% of smokers purchases are now from illicit sources.

 

Public opinion is also firmly against the proposal. The public Consultation on the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco attracted over 700,000 responses, half a million of them opposed to plain packaging.

Given this overwhelming result I hope that you too will declare your opposition to this measure.

I would be grateful too if you would ask the relevant ministers to consider in their final review:

The likely impact on counterfeiting and the corresponding increase in organised crime.  The potential loss of tax revenue (in addition to the £billions that is already lost from illicit sales)  The full impact on business, including community based independent stores and packaging companies.

 

Finally, I fully understand that Government has a key role to play in improving public health and protecting the most vulnerable in society, especially children. There is however no credible evidence that packaging encourages children to start smoking. The evidence that I saw as a retailer was that young people tend to smoke only if they have a friend/friends who smoke.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to your reply.

 

Yours sincerely

Steven Denham

 

The Hands Off Our Packaging campaign website has a ‘Letter to your MP’ that you can use. www.no2plainpacks.org