SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (REUTERS) - The British government on Friday (July 12) pushed back plans to ban company branding on cigarette packets, saying it wanted to first see the impact of a similar decision in Australia.
The move was welcomed by the tobacco industry which claims plain packaging would hit jobs and encourage cigarette smuggling, but strongly criticised by health campaigners.
The government has published the results of a consultation on plain packaging which showed 53 percent of respondents in favour of the measure, but said it had decided to wait until the impact of the Australian ban could be measured.
Last year, Australia implemented a law saying cigarettes must be sold in olive green packets carrying graphic health warnings.
Until earlier this year, when the plan was omitted from the government's legislative plans, Britain had looked set to become the first European country to follow suit.
Supporters of a ban on branding, meaning cigarettes would be sold in uniform packets without company logos or colours, say it would help reduce smoking rates, particularly among young people.
Cancer Research UK called Friday's decision "bitterly disappointing."
But Imperial Tobacco, the world's fourth-largest cigarette group by market share, said it welcomed the delay, saying there was no evidence that plain packaging would achieve its stated outcome.