The North Antrim MP has dismissed government announcement to introduce plan packaging on cigarettes as “a con on public health.”
He said, “This standardised packaging measure has been announced in the guise of being a health measure yet there is not a shred of evidence that a single life will be saved by the measure. This is the UK over-regulating an already heavily regulated industry and makes a mockery of evidence based regulations and taxation policy.
“Furthermore it is a dream come true for the counterfeiters who will now be able to concentrate on making one rip-off package instead of a host of designs that were previously copied.
“I’m all for regulating this industry given the dangers associated with smoking. That is not in question nor is my commitment to public health. But let’s not con people into the false belief that this is a health measure when there is no evidence to say that plain packs will save lives, that is just ridiculous. However the government has set its mind to doing this and it is regrettable.
“I have warned the impact these measures will have on the industry and just this week we have seen that over-regulation from Europe and the UK seal the fate of JTI in Ballymena with the loss of 1000 manufacturing jobs, all on the pretence that these regulations will stop people smoking.
“They have certainly stopped British manufacturing jobs but the same products will now be made outside the UK and continue to be sold here. I think most can see through the nonsense of such a policy.
“I fear two further things as a result; that the timeframe to close JTI instead of being stretched to mid 2017 could in fact now contract to 2016 thus creating more pressure on the local economy and secondly that the regulation brigade will now turn their attention to sweets, confectionary, drinks and foods, to try over-regulate and control these products also. “