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Cigarette Packaging

Volume 512: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2010

Evidence of the impact on public health of plain packaging of tobacco needs to be developed further, because no jurisdiction globally has yet introduced it. However, Australia will do so from 2012. We will monitor developments there with considerable interest.

Smoking costs the NHS £2.7 billion a year, six times the cost of a new hospital for north Tees and Hartlepool. In the north-east, approximately 10,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15 are smoking. We want all of them, not just half of them, to lead a fulfilled life. Will the Minister ensure that the assessment of plain packaging is expedited, so that we can be given an answer as soon as possible?

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise the impact that smoking still has on the health of children in particular—I believe that 200,000 take up smoking each year. We still have 80,000 smoking-related deaths in this country. It is important to watch what happens in Australia and see where the evidence points for the future.