Charity hopes for plain cig packets in NI by next year

Plain packets
Plain packets

One health charity has said it hopes plain cigarette packaging rules will be in place in Northern Ireland by May 2016.

The chief executive of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke was speaking after the Government announced it intends to bring forward such a law before the upcoming general election in May.

However, even if MPs in the House of Commons vote a plain packaging bill into force, Northern Ireland’s politicians will still need to ratify it.

Chest Heart and Stroke’s Andrew Dougal said on Thursday: “We’ll be writing to members on the Northern Ireland Executive urgently.

“We’d hope to have it in place before the Assembly elections next year. No messing about. It’s not a huge time frame required for it to get through the Assembly.”

The charity also said there was “overwhelming public support for a ban on smoking in cars carrying children”.

During a debate on the topic of plain packaging last year, Mr Dougal said the “vast majority” of MLAs in the chamber had supported such a move.

DUP MP Ian Paisley, who has been vocal about the job losses at the Ballymena’s JTI cigarette factory (which were confirmed on Wednesday), said of the plain packaging idea: “I’m all for regulating this industry given the dangers associated with smoking.

“That is not in question, nor is my commitment to public health.

“But let’s not con people into the false belief that this is a health measure when there is no evidence to say that plain packs will save lives, that is just ridiculous.”