‘Plain packaging for cigarettes by end of current Parliament’

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She said the current “comprehensive” approach was working well, but insisted it was important not to be complacent.

In an unusual move, Ms Ellison used an evening adjournment debate in the Commons to announce that regulations enforcing plain packaging would be laid before Parliament in time to be agreed by both Houses before Parliament is dissolved at the end of March.

The regulations enact plain packaging which was legislated for in the Children and Families Act 2014.

The ban on smoking in private cars will come into force on October 1 of this year, the minister also announced.

During an adjournment debate in the Commons, Ms Ellison said tobacco caused around 80,000 deaths a year and that around 600 children in the UK take up smoking every day.

The Government was committed to reducing the numbers of young people who take up smoking, she went on, but had been taking its time to consider all of the relevant evidence, including the prospect of litigation from the tobacco industry.

Ms Ellison told MPs last night: “We cannot be complacent. We all know the damage smoking does to health.

“This Government is completely committed to protecting children from the harm that tobacco causes.

“That’s why I’m announcing today that we will be bringing forward legislation for standardised packaging before the end of this Parliament. I would like to reassure the House I will provide further details about the introduction of this policy in due course.”

On smoking in private cars carrying children, Ms Ellison added: “I expect we will have a date for the debate soon.”

Two Bradford firms which make cigarette packaging, Weidenhammer and Chesapeake, have said they fear job losses if the rules on packaging is brought in.