Northern Ireland mustn't be left out of new cigarette packaging laws: charity
Northern Ireland will fall behind Britain on plain tobacco packaging if a new law is not introduced urgently, a cancer charity has said.
It would mean the removal of promotional branding and the adding of strong health messages.
Gerry McElwee, head of cancer prevention for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, said: "The campaign for standardised packaging has gained massive public support because it will protect future generations from being seduced by tobacco industry marketing and will encourage smoking cessation in adults. It would be a catastrophe if it fell at this late stage.
"It is vitally important that Northern Ireland is not left behind the rest of the UK on this crucial piece of legislation."
A piece of Assembly business known as a legislative consent motion is needed to include Northern Ireland in a Bill being considered in the House of Lords allowing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to introduce standardised packaging regulations.
Cancer Focus said the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister needed to adopt the motion urgently to introduce it in time for the Westminster deadline.