British Labour Party MEPs have criticised today the UK government's decision to remove new laws on standardised tobacco packaging from the upcoming Queen's speech.
As Glenis Willmott, Leader of Labour MEPs and spokesperson on health, stated: "We have to call the government's commitment to public health into question. They are willing to forge ahead with their disastrous reorganisation of the NHS, but will not take the simple measure of standardising tobacco packaging, which will greatly reduce the attractiveness of tobacco for the next generation."
In addition, Mr Willmott stressed that standardised packs would put an end to marketing tactics of tobacco companies since, nowadays, the pack itself is the only opportunity the industry has left to advertise. In particular, he pointed to packaging designs that are specifically designed in order to attract young people, as for example thin, pink, flowery boxes that look more like lipstick targeting at catching young girls’ eye.
Moreover, Linda McAvan MEP, the European Parliament's Rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive said MEPs are also pushing for large pictorial health warnings and a ban on flavourings in order to tackle smoking. She also cited the example of Australia, which is one of the world leaders in tobacco control and has already implemented standardised packaging. Finally, she stated that despite the UK government is not supporting the proposal, labour MEPs will continue to push for standardised packaging at EU level.
The Queen's Speech, outlining the British government's programme for the year ahead, will take place on 8 May.