By Daniel Hunter

Confirmation that the Government is to consult on legislation that would require tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging shows a crazy lack of co-ordination and ignores the Government's own principles on Better Regulation.

Reacting to the announcement that a consultation will be launched on Monday (16 April) the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is asking why its members have just been forced to spend nearly £16 million refitting stores in England to keep tobacco products out of sight when plain packaging is about to make that utterly pointless.

"So much for joined up government and minimising burdens on business. Having just forced large retailers to spend almost £16 million refitting stores to hide tobacco products the Government is now confirming it's considering legislation on packaging," British Retail Consortium Food Director, Andrew Opie, said.

"That's crazy and completely against the Government's own better regulation principles. If a decision is taken to go ahead with plain packaging, concealing products from view in shops becomes irrelevant.

"Plain packaging could make it harder to serve customers and to tackle counterfeit products but it would at least be logical. Many young people take up smoking because they see their parents doing it. If the Government believes making cigarettes less visible reduces smoking then that should be in the home and on the street not just in large shops.

"Retailers are working closely with the Government to help people stop smoking, alongside all their other work on public health and obesity but, after only one week it's telling us the costly display ban it's just imposed on retailers is about to become obsolete."

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