The Government has been criticised after it dropped proposals to make it illegal for an adult to buy tobacco on behalf of a minor.

An amendment to the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, would have made it an offence, but it has been withdrawn.

Jaine Chisholm Caunt, secretary general of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA), commented: “We fully supported the amendment to the Government Bill to ban the proxy purchasing of tobacco products. This would have brought it into line with legislation on alcohol and in turn provide the retail sector with greater clarity on age-restricted sales.

“It is disappointing that the Government is not progressing with a ban on proxy purchasing and have stated that “our action must be guided by evidence” but at the same time is considering the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging based on no reliable evidence at all.”

She added: “Why would the UK government pursue a counterproductive policy like standardising cigarette packs when other measures such as the recent ban on displaying packs in shops has not been given time to be implemented, let alone evaluated?

“We hope that any review will be open-minded, and take into account the views and concerns of the TMA and the thousands of businesses, large and small, who don’t see ’plain packaging’ as a workable solution or an effective tobacco control measure.”