Serious questions are being asked today about Andrew Lansley’s stance on the consultation on the standardised (plain) packaging of tobacco.
Before the consultation was announced Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the Times (13th Apri 2012l) that the government did not work with tobacco companies as it wanted them to have “no business” in the UK. That set a few warning bells ringing.
Just a few days later, however, announcing the start of the consultation, his stance seemed to be more moderate. Andrew Lansley was insisting that his mind was “open” over proposals to strip cigarette packets of branding as a consultation on the plans was launched.
It is therefore surprising to find that the publicly funded pro-plain packs web site is claiming the Secretary of State is indeed, now at least, a supporter of plain packaging.
It is not clear when he became a supporter of plain packaging, but as this is a government funded body claiming it, I assume that is true? I am currently running the Hands of Our Packs campaign, opposing the introduction of plain packaging (no government money). I can’t imagine claiming that any Minister, health or otherwise, is against plain packaging, without checking with them first – no matter how many additional signatures it might draw into the campaign.
So I think that Andrew Lansley has some explaining to do? If he doesn’t then the campaign asserting that he has already made his mind up certainly does -particularly considering the source of its funding. It is all starting to look very curious indeed.
Angela Harbutt heads up the campaign Hands Off Our Packs. The campaign is funded by Forest – Freedom Organsiation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco.
A letter has now been sent to the Department of Health requesting a response to the following questions:
1. Is it appropriate for the Secretary of State for Health to be listed as a supporter of plain packs (by a campaign that receives public money) in the middle of a public consultation on the issue and before the DoH has published its report on the consultation?
2. What action will the DoH (or the Secretary of State) take on this matter?
Let’s see what the Department of Health has to say.
It is also interesting to note that two of the authors (including the lead investigator) of the Department of Health’s (emphasis own) “independent academic review of the existing evidence” relating to plain packaging are also listed on the plain packs protect web site as “supporters” of plain packs. The authors – Gerard Hastings and Linda Bauld are identified by the cmapign as being not quite so “independent” in their thinking as one might have hoped.