The UK Government has decided not to bring forward plans to introduce Plain Packaging on all tobacco products, largely due to the campaign of opposition that Ian Paisley, our local MP has carried out in Parliament. There has been an ongoing consultation surrounding the plans, carried out by the Department of Health, which attracted over 500,000 responses in opposition to the measures, a telling statistic of public feeling towards the proposals.
Last week during the Queen’s speech, which outlines Government policy agenda for the upcoming Parliament, there was no mention of plans for Plain Packaging, indicating that officials have decided against the measures.
Ian Paisley’s campaign in Parliament attracted 75 signatures from MPs on all sides of the House, worried about the impact of smuggling, loss of revenue to the Treasury and subsequent job loss that would occur should the measures be brought in. What’s more HMRC, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the PSNI all indicated their fears that such a measure would make tackling the illicit trade of tobacco, a £3billion market in the UK, nearly impossible.
Retailers, Packaging Manufacturers, Design Agencies, Wholesalers and many more businesses throughout the UK all expressed their dismay at the measures, which they believed were certain to increase the illicit trade and cost their jobs and income dearly.
JTI, who employ 1000 people in Ballymena and contribute £57million to the local wage economy, also opposed the measures.
Speaking after the announcement Ian Paisley said:
“I am absolutely delighted that the Government appears to have seen sense and scrapped such a ridiculous and time-wasting proposal, especially when there is not one single shred of evidence that it will stop people smoking.
At last the Government have finally listened to the 75 MPs, the HMRC, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the 500,000 responses to the consultation who were all opposed to this measure that was certain to increase smuggling, lose revenue for the Treasury and cost UK jobs.
Perhaps now Government can spend their time more valuably on issues that truly affect this country, such as the economy, employment and growth instead of looking to introduce naive measures that are a blatant attack on jobs and quite clearly won’t work. I’m not aware of anybody who smokes, or started smoking because they liked the colour of the packet. It’s time for sensible and effective ideas that are actually proven.
I am pleased the matter appears to have been put to bed with jobs around Ballymena more secure and not lost to the smuggler and illicit trade.”
Plain Packaging – Smuggling – Ballymena