13 Jul 2013

British govt delays plain cigarette packaging plans

1:53 pm on 13 July 2013

The British government says it will delay plans to introduce plain cigarette packages until more evidence emerges from Australia that smoking rates are actually being cut.

The ABC reports the government has not put a time frame on when it will reassess the matter.

Health minister Anna Soubry said Australian officials had not been able to give her enough evidence that the measure is working.

"We've made a decision to look at that evidence as it emerges," she said.

"What I was quite surprised at was that even after about three or four months, they couldn't give me a picture of any emerging evidence as they were finding it, and that's why we need this time."

The ABC reports the decision came under fire in parliament. Labour MP Kevan Jones was one of those who spoke:.

"I've got to say, this is a first for this government - that you determine policy by waiting to see what the Australians do," he said.

Shadow health minister Diane Abbott said the government had done a u-turn.

Australian health minister Tanya Plibersek said she is disappointed by the government's decision. She said there is already clear anecdotal evidence that plain packaging works.

"It's a great concern that the British government have delayed their plans to go to plain packaging," she said.