THE Scottish Government plans to press ahead with its own legislation to introduce standardised packaging on tobacco products but it could be 12 -18 months before a plain packs bill is introduced.
Cabinet health secretary Alex Neil gave the estimate to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee in discussion that followed a historic question put by retailer Dennis Williams, who runs Broadway Convenience Store with his wife and partner Linda in Edinburgh’s Oxgangs district.
The shop owner’s questions, on whether there was evidence of benefits – in terms of youth smoking and general tobacco consumption – from forced plain packaging of tobacco products, and on efforts being made against illicit tobacco trading, were the first to be taken in the Ask the Health Secretary scheme where members of the public were asked to participate in the parliamentary scrutiny session.
Answering the retailer’s question Neil said a public health research consortium review had found strong evidence that standardised packaging would reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products, increase the noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings and messages, and reduce the use of design techniques that may mislead consumers about the harmfulness of tobacco products.
Answering an MSP’s follow-up question on when legislation would be pursued he said: “We intend to introduce the necessary legislation within the next year to 18 months.
“The cabinet still has to finalise the next set of bills that will come before the parliament. This particular legislation will be included but the exact timing of its introduction will depend on a range of other matters.”
• A new report says illicit tobacco trading has boomed in Australia since the introduction of tobacco plain packaging.