Cigarette packaging review is 'shambolic' - Labour

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The opposition has attacked the government for reviving its consideration of standardised cigarette packets.

Health Minister Jane Ellison came to the House to answer an urgent question from shadow minister Luciana Berger.

She told MPs that paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler will lead a review of the evidence, and his report in March could result in cigarettes being sold in standardised packaging by 2015.

David Cameron appeared to distance himself from uniform packaging in July, saying further evidence was needed to show whether it would be effective.

Ms Berger challenged the announcement: "We've seen plenty of U-turns over the last three years but only a government as shambolic as this one could be U-turning on a U-turn."

She claimed that the government was trying to avoid embarrassment in the Lords, where the issue will be debated next week.

But Ms Ellison told her it was "the right time" to launch a review since "we must do all we can to stop young people from taking up smoking in the first place if we are to reduce the smoking rates".

The SNP's Pete Wishart invited her to "commend the SNP government for taking the lead on this", since Holyrood has already introduced curbs on cigarette packaging, but the minister maintained: "The government is proceeding on the track laid out in the summer."

Lib Dem Lorely Burt made the case that e-cigarettes should not be classed as medication but "should be subject to the same marketing controls as cigarettes" and was informed by Ms Ellison that their classification is "the subject of negotiation".

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