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NI backs plain tobacco packet plan

Northern Ireland's health minister has backed plans to introduce standardised cigarette packaging.

Jim Wells said the region would be included in the UK Government's proposals for plain tobacco product packets, which is set to be voted on by MPs in Westminster before the General Election.

Wales has already backed the potential UK-wide law change, with Scottish ministers also signalling their support for the measure.

If backed by MPs, plain packaging could be introduced by May 2016.

Some Conservative MPs have voiced opposition to the plans.

Announcing that he was giving consent for Northern Ireland to be included in the proposed legislation, Mr Wells said: "Smoking remains the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland. Half of all smokers will be killed by their use of tobacco products.

"Branding on cigarette packets provides one of the last opportunities for tobacco companies to promote their products. Evidence shows that young people are more receptive to this type of advertising than adults. I believe that standardised packaging has the potential to contribute to a further reduction in child and adult smoking prevalence and look forward to this measure being introduced in Northern Ireland."

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Standardised packaging will require all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco for retail sale to meet certain conditions including:

:: Standard colour (dull brown on the outside and white on the inside)

:: All text on the packaging, including brand name and variant, to be in a standard typeface

:: No branding, advertising or promotion on the pack (except the use of the brand name)

All tobacco products will continue to carry health warnings.


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