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Tobacco Control

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 28 November 2013

I am today announcing that we have asked Sir Cyril Chantler to carry out an independent review of the public health evidence on standardised packaging of tobacco products.

Tobacco use is a significant public health challenge. Our evidence-based tobacco control strategies play an essential part in delivering the Government’s continued commitment to reduce the number of people in this country who are dying prematurely.

It is important to explore avenues that have the potential to contribute to this long-standing aim. In July we said that we would keep the policy of standardised packaging under review as we examine the emerging evidence. As part of this ongoing work we have therefore commissioned a review with the following terms of reference:

To give advice to the Secretary of State for Health, taking into account existing and any fresh evidence, as to whether or not the introduction of standardised packaging is likely to have an effect on public health (and what any effect might be), in particular in relation to the health of children. It will be a matter for the chair to determine how he undertakes this review and he is free to draw evidence from whatever source he considers necessary and appropriate.

The review will report by March 2014.

It will be an independent review, with advice to the Secretary of State contained in a report. An independent secretariat will be appointed by the chair, who will set out the method of how he will conduct the review in more detail in due course. The secretariat will be wholly accountable to the chair, and it will be for the chair to guide and task them in their work as he sees fit.

We intend to reach a decision on standardised tobacco packaging once Sir Cyril has made his report. The Government will introduce standardised tobacco packaging if, following the review and consideration of the wider issues raised by this policy, we are satisfied that there are sufficient grounds to proceed, including public health benefit.

The Government also intend to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Children and Families Bill, which is currently being considered in the House of Lords, to table a Government amendment to take enabling powers now which would allow regulations to be made to introduce standardised tobacco packaging later, if it is decided to proceed with this policy.