Plain cigarette packets plans go up in smoke

DAVID Cameron has shelved proposals to introduce plain cigarette packaging, over concerns the measures would hit tax revenues with little positive effect.

The Department of Health has been weighing up the proposals for months, but the Prime Minister has now vetoed the plans.

City A.M. understands that rather than scrapping the idea completely, the measures have been put on ice until after 2015’s election. It would then be up to the next government to decide on the issue.

The Department of Health yesterday refused to confirm or deny reports that the proposals had been scrapped. However, the news came as a boost to tobacco companies yesterday, with Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco seeing shares rise.

Firms have campaigned vociferously against plain packaging, arguing that it would do little to prevent smoking but would vastly reduce tax revenues from cigarettes, since plain packets will be easier to fake, boosting the illegal trade.

Putting brands on packets is one of the last ways left to advertise cigarettes in the UK. A ban on tobacco displays in large shops was introduced last year.