This week's issue of Retail Newsagent is still arriving in readers' shops, but it is already causing waves in the corridors of power.

Yesterday morning I tweeted a picture of this week's cover with the message "Tide turning on plain packs: 99% of consultation respondents say no; rebels split cabinet; vote winnable."

A number of MPs, retailers and interested parties subsequently discussed the impact plain packaging would have on their businesses.

Things got interesting last night, however, when shadow health secretary Andy Burham tweeted my cover picture with the message "time to get organised".

I asked Mr Burnham what he meant by this and he replied: "to help Govt defeat the rebels and win the vote".

Now this is interesting. In 2009, when health secretary, Mr Burnham said:

“No studies have shown that introducing plain packaging of tobacco products would cut the number of young people smoking, or enable people who want to quit, to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would need strong and convincing evidence showing the health benefits of this policy before it would be acceptable at an international level.”

Then in May 2013, he told the FT:

“Standardised cigarette packets are key to deterring our young people from taking up smoking. We call on the Government to rethink ditching this policy.”

Standardised packaging wasn't introduced in Australia until December 2012, so no evidence will have come out when Mr Bunham changed his mind and said the above.

So what has convinced him?

Retail Newsagent will be putting this question – and many more – to him for next week's issue (27 February).

The thousands of local businesses that read Retail Newsagent every week deserve these answers before such a devastating vote comes to pass.

Subscribe to Retail Newsagent to see how this story develops.