by Ed Chadwick

Retailers must invite MPs into their shops and underline the effort the trade puts into stopping youth smoking in a bid to change the government’s mind on plain packaging, says a leading politician.

MP Priti Patel’s call came after public health minister Jane Ellison told parliament that draft regulations for plain packaging would be produced within weeks, before a “short and final” consultation.

Last week’s announcement follows paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler’s 62-page report to the government concluding that removing branding would have a “modest but important” reduction on youth smoking.

Ms Patel, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, told RN that retailers have the power to influence the consultation by inviting MPs to their stores to set out the likely effects of plain packaging on their business and the role they played in responsible retailing.

I encourage retailers to invite MPs to visit their stores to see the great work newsagents do in preventing underage sales and the impact of regulation on illicit sales

MPs will vote on proposals before the general election next May, but there is no timeline for the law to come into force.

“I encourage retailers to invite MPs to visit their stores to see the great work newsagents do in preventing underage sales and the impact of regulation on illicit sales,” said Ms Patel.

Trade bodies and some MPs have said they were disappointed that Mr Chantler ignored the potential for plain packaging to fuel the booming black market, as appears to have happened in Australia.

JTI said that “nothing has changed” since the government opted to shelve plain packaging because of a lack of evidence last year.

Imperial said it feared that the 12% increase in the Australian black market would be repeated in the UK.

Northfleet retailer Harry Goraya said: “We have got to be part of the debate on plain packaging because MPs face being brainwashed by the health arguments, which aren’t backed up with evidence.”

How can politicians be persuaded over plain packs? Tell us below: