Friday, 12 July 2013

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Jeremy Hunt announcing he is putting plain packaging for cigarettes on hold is a disgrace. How can we take seriously government plans for improving public health when they back away from decisions that could save so many lives?

As the CEO of Cancer UK, Harpal Kumar said on Today, half of those kids who take up smoking in their youth and become addicted will die of cancer.

So what has been the role of Lynton Crosby in this?  The Department of Health wants to look at how the idea has worked in Australia (home to Lynton, who has lobbied in the past against it). I hope that critics like Jamie Reed MP will keep on asking the Crosby question: has the PM ever discussed the plain packaging idea with his political strategy adviser? He has repeatedly refused to answer that question, simply replying that he has never been ‘lobbied’ by the Wizard from Oz.

The Guardian diary reports that Japan Tobacco International (JTI) facilitated quality time for a string of MPs at the Chelsea Flower Show, including Edward Garnier, Nigel Adams, Dame Angela Watkinson, Oliver Colvile, Alec Shelbrooke and Labour's Lindsay Hoyle, with tickets each worth £1,260. The following month JTI gave tickets for the opera at Glyndebourne to Labour's Gerald Kaufman, Jim Dowd and Tory Bob Walter. They each received two tickets worth more than £1,200.

I'm sorry that Hunt has blotted his copy book on this but I bet Norman Lamb MP and Anna Soulbry MP in the DH are also hopping mad. As Sarah Wollaston MP (a former GP) tweeted, "what a tragic waste of an opportunity". We need a commitment from the Lib Dems and Labour they will immediately introduce the ban after the election if things go there way.

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