Opponents of plain packs for tobacco have launched an online advertising campaign urging people to lobby their member of parliament about the issue.

Hands Off Our Packs, the campaign set up and run by the smokers’ group Forest, has launched a new website that supporters hope will encourage thousands of people to inform their local MP about their opposition to the measure.

Visitors to the website, can click on a button to bring up a template letter and email it to their MP.

The letter says plain packaging was not included in any election manifesto in 2010 and was rejected by the previous government in 2008 on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support such a policy.

It adds: “Police officers, retired and serving, have expressed concern that plain packaging will encourage organised crime. Their views are shared by many small retailers, wholesalers, packaging companies and design agencies who may be forced to cut jobs if plain packaging is introduced.”

The letter concludes by saying, “There is no credible evidence that packaging encourages children to start smoking and to argue otherwise is to fly in the face of common sense.”

The Say No To Plain Packs online advertisement will play to just under a million people over five days.

Hands Off Our Packs campaigner Angela Harbutt said: "700,000 members of the public responded to the government consultation on plain packaging. Half a million were against the proposal yet many MPs are still unaware of the level of opposition this policy faces.

"It is now six months since the consultation closed and we have still to hear anything from the Department of Health. It is time that we helped put MPs in the picture."

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “If you are opposed to plain packaging it is very important that you write and tell your MP personally.

“The Say No To Plain Packs website enables people to email their MP with the minimum of fuss. It should take no more than a minute and it’s time well spent.”