Campaigners against plain tobacco packaging are continuing to fight the idea, even though there was no mention of any new measures in the recent Queen’s Speech.
And non-smoking Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale MP Philip Davies has added his voice to the campaign against the introduction plain packaging, which he claimed would be ‘gesture politics’.
Mike Ridgway, co-ordinator for a group of UK packaging companies, including Weidenhammer and Chesapeke in Bradford, which both rely heavily on tobacco firms for their business, fears ministers may only have put plans for plain packs on the back burner and are waiting for an opportunity to reintroduce the plan.
The group celebrated the omission of plain packaging plans from the Queen’s Speech but says the Treasury is missing out on £2.9 billion of revenue from counterfeit tobacco products which escape tax according to studies by KPMG.
Counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes were also more dangerous because of their poor quality contents and were allegedly providing rich pickings for criminal groups.
Mr Ridgway, who is also an Ilkley Parish councillor, said: “Although this has been a long process we are pleased that the Government is taking its time over the plain packaging decision in the UK and are sure that once all the consequences are taken into account the proposal will not be introduced.
“This is very important to Chesapeake and Weiden-hammer who have invested heavily over recent years, with Weidenhammer opening a new factory off Halifax Road in 2011 to produce composite cans for the tobacco and other branded product markets.”
Mr Ridgway continues to lobby MEPs and Eurocrats against a proposed tobacco products directive to increase regulations covering pack design and size, slim cigarettes and the composite can for loose tobacco. A crucial vote on the matter takes place next month.
In the House of Commons Philip Davies said there was no point in plain packaging of cigarettes that were not allowed to be displayed. He has secured a meeting with the health minister on he issue.
Mr Davies said: “”Plain packaging of cigarettes would be gesture politics of the worst kind. Cigarettes are already banned from being displayed and so it is clearly ridiculous to claim that we need plain packaging for a product that people are unable to see on the shelves.
“Not only would it be a triumph for the nanny state, but it would be a disaster for some packaging businesses in the Bradford district and unnecessarily put jobs there at risk.”