Smoking is no longer part of life, says Andrew Lansley

LONDON. April 6. KAZINFORM Proposals to force tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain, unbranded packaging are expected to be unveiled by the government.

Under the guidelines, packets would lose their logos, graphics and distinctive colours, leaving health warnings as the most noticeable marking, the Guardian reports.

The move would make England the first country in Europe to have plain packaging. Ministers hope it would make cigarettes less alluring to the estimated 200,000 teenagers who take up smoking each year.

The health secretary, Andrew Lansley , is expected to publish the plan to coincide with national No Smoking Day on Wednesday.

The government is also believed to be considering a ban on displaying cigarettes in shops, despite fears that newsagents and convenience stores would face significant extra costs if restrictions on cigarette sales were imposed.

Both steps have been under discussion for several years, with legislation to ban the display of tobacco products put in place by the previous Labour government.

Canada, Ireland, Iceland and Finland have introduced similar bans. If approved, it is expected to be implemented in England over the next two years.

A consultation is expected to take place before a final decision is taken on overhauling packaging laws..

A Conservative backbencher, Philip Davies, has described the plans as "gesture politics of the worst kind", claiming their enforcement would be a "triumph for the nanny state".

Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties campaign group, also criticised the plans.

"Not content with increasing taxes on tobacco to sky-high levels, it appears the health secretary now wants to go one step further and impose plain packaging on tobacco products," a spokesman said.

"This would be just the latest move by the government to demonise smokers, a group of people who voluntarily choose to consume a perfectly legal product.

"The government likes to talk about freedom - how about respecting the rights of smokers? Under Andrew Lansley, the nanny state is alive and well."

Lansley said in parliament on Tuesday that the government was committed to securing a further reduction in the number of people smoking and, as a consequence, a reduction of avoidable deaths and disease.

No Smoking Day, now in its 28th year, is supported by an alliance of health promotion agencies and health charities.

Almost a million smokers in the UK try to kick the habit on No Smoking Day, campaigners say.

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