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« Tobacco company questions plain pack consultation process | Main | Forest v. Tobacco Free Futures »
Thursday
Jul052012

Government extends plain packaging consultation period

Just fancy that!

Three days after shop workers demonstrated overwhelming opposition to plain packaging of tobacco by submitting 30,000 signatures to the government consultation, the Department of Health today issued a statement extending the deadline for submissions by four weeks.

The full statement by Anne Milton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health, reads:

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley) announced on 16 April the Government’s consultation on standardised packaging for tobacco products, Official Report, col 11ws. A large number of responses have already been received from a variety of individuals and organisations.

The Government has been asked to provide more time for people to respond to the consultation [my emphasis]. We want to maximise the opportunity that people have to provide their views and evidence.

The Government is, therefore, extending the consultation period for an extra month. The new closing date of the consultation is Friday, 10 August 2012.

Through this consultation, we are exploring whether action on tobacco packaging has the potential to bring public health benefits over and above those from our current initiatives. The Government has an entirely open mind on standardised packaging, and want to know more about the possible benefits and consequences of taking action in this area.

Any decisions to take further policy action on tobacco packaging will be taken only after full consideration is given to consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.

The big question is, who asked the Government "to provide more time for people to respond to the consultation"? It wasn't Forest/Hands Off Our Packs. (Can you imagine the response if we had asked for "more time"?!)

It wasn't the retailers (so far as I know). Nor was it the general public, most of whom are blissfully unaware that a consultation is taking place.

No, the prime suspect has to be the tobacco control industry which is desperate to win this battle and will do anything to ensure that it does.

Whoever is responsible the Government has shamelessly moved the goalposts. I'm not a conspiracy theorist by nature but occasionally events speak for themselves.

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Reader Comments (13)

Well spotted Simon, I had no idea they wanted extra time.

There is no other reason to extend this ‘consultation’ other than to stack the deck further, in which case it is even more of an imperative to complete the consultation.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 14:17 | Unregistered CommenterDave Scott

I cannot verify this so please consider it an unfounded rumour, but I've been told that when CRUK's paper bag heads visited Westminster they asked several members for more time because CRUK hadn't got enough signatures. Supposedly. Really don't know if it's true ... just gossip on the vine...

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 14:53 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Give ASH time to distribute more post cards to "health professionals."

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 15:14 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

The Govt's mind is made up. It just needs more time to come up with the right spin to give an angry public when they announce the decision.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 16:05 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

"The Government has an entirely open mind... and want to know more about the possible benefits and consequences of taking action in this area."

Says it all

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 18:42 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

On the plus side, I'll have more time to drum up support and signatures, since the stuff you sent to me was 'delayed in the post '...

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 20:02 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Barber

Any info about extra funding for the Tobacco Control Industry so they can provide undeniable proof of success to counter the views of real people?
How many fewer nurses will we have so they can find the funds in a time of austerity?

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 21:37 | Unregistered CommenterChris

"The government is extending the consultation period."

Translation:

The social authoritarian scumbags on both sides of the political divide have not gotten the answer they wanted.

Friday, July 6, 2012 at 18:03 | Unregistered Commenterheretic

I suspect that this "extended time period" for the consultation is a "consultation's" equivalent of the Lisbon Treaty re-vote in Ireland. If at first you don't succeed ...

On the positive side, though, it does show that they're having trouble getting the support they need - and that must necessarily mean that many of their erstwhile enthusiastic supporters have fallen by the wayside or (shock! horror!) gone over to the "dark side" by thinking that with the ban now in place, "enough's enough."

Which is yet another indication that the anti-smoking industry's star is now firmly on the wane.

Friday, July 6, 2012 at 18:35 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I had been looking forward to hearing you on You and Yours on radio 4 earlier this week Simon, but banker-bashing took precedence... anyway, they went ahead without you, or any kind of balance, the next day:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00vrn7q

Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 0:02 | Unregistered Commenterftumch

Simon,

As I pointed out, back in 2009, the government does not need to undertake a consultation—or pass a bill—to force plain packaging of cigarettes.

All it requires is for the Health Minister to dictate it.

So, should the extension to this democratic fig-leaf fail to return the right answer, the government will simply use the mini-Enabling Act to impose plain packaging—regardless of the voters' wishes and without passing it through Parliament.

DK

Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 4:27 | Unregistered CommenterDevil's Kitchen

'the background to all this is the fact that many Asian shopkeepers were only supplied with copies of the consultation translated into gujarti, Urdo and Tamil'
Yeah right.
Are we to take it then that english translations have to be supplied that will take a month to be deciphered.
Strikes me that the 'delay' bears all the hallmarks of the Irish Nice and Lisbon No vote that when its translated, always turns out to mean Yes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 9:50 | Unregistered Commenterann

On the BBCs Radio4 You&Yours programme Winifred Robinson described Professor Robert West as a world ‘expert on stopping smoking’, and that he’s also a health psychologist at University College London.

He’s a ‘world expert on stopping smoking’, what does that mean. If you want to stop smoking you will, what expertise does that take? But he also made this ludicrous statement which is common to all brainwashed or intolerant people like him.

He said that the smoking ban was brought in to protect people from SHS (second hand smoke) “…it was literally killing thousands of non-smokers…” he gave no evidence for this, and certainly not any post-mortem evidence.

All these people have is their own prejudices and intolerance. Prof Bob West is an expert alright – on flapping his gums on behalf of Tobacco Control.

Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 12:22 | Unregistered CommenterDennis

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