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Wirral Euro MP urges Government to act over plain-packaging of cigarettes
11:30am Monday 16th July 2012 in News
A NORTH West Euro MP has added her voice to calls for plain-packaging for cigarettes to be introduced as soon as possible.
The Department of Health's consultation on plain packaging is now due in August - but the result could trigger legal action.
Imperial Tobacco is threatening to go to law against the Government if it implements the change, saying the compensation bill could run to billions of pounds.
Labour Euro MP Arlene McCarthy, one of Wirral's representatives in the European Parliament, says delay in introducing the ban is costing lives.
She said: "Over the last few years the industry has been particularly targeting young women with super-slim, feminine packets which look more like boxes for lipstick or perfume than for a dangerous and addictive drug.
"Standardising packs would end this practice."
Ms McCarthy, who is a supporter of the Smoke Free North West Campaign, said two thirds of current smokers started smoking before they were 18 and 83% started before they were 20.
She continued: "Unlike regular smokers, young people who haven't yet tried tobacco are not drawn to it by a physical addiction.
"Instead they are attracted to tobacco solely by the image and the idea of smoking,"
The Government consultation on standardising tobacco packaging; replacing all branding and colours with large pictorial health warnings, was due to close last Tuesday.
However the deadline has now been extended for another month.
"I hope people take advantage of this extra time to share their views with the government, who must take swift action once the consultation closes," said Ms McCarthy.
"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and kills one-in-two regular smokers."
The Government will be considering national legislation at the same time as the European Parliament revises the internal market rules on tobacco packaging.
Ms McCarthy said is possible plain packaging laws could be rolled out across Europe.
Opponents say the ban would have serious negative consequences for the economy and would provide a stimulus for the illicit trade of tobacco.