Campaigners against standardised packaging of tobacco have launched an online advertising campaign against the policy.
The ’No, Prime Minister’ campaign was created by the smokers’ group Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign. It features a letter that opponents of plain packaging can send to David Cameron in Downing Street.
According to the letter there is no credible evidence that children start smoking because of packaging, or that plain packaging will deter children from smoking.
It calls on David Cameron to wait until government has studied the impact of the tobacco display ban, which will not be fully implemented until 2015, and the introduction of larger health warnings which are being introduced in 2016 as part of the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "Plain packaging is yet another attack on retailers and adult consumers. People are sick of being nannied by government. Britain needs to be protected from excessive regulation, not controlled by more and more legislation.
"A four-month government consultation resulted in over 665,000 responses with a substantial majority, 427,888, opposed to the policy. We urge the prime minister to respect the outcome of that consultation which members of the public responded to in good faith."
The online ad campaign will run for 72 hours and will have total exposure on websites and blogs including Guido Fawkes, ConservativeHome, Labour List, Liberal Democrat Voice, Left Foot Forward, UK Polling Report, Political Betting and Newsbiscuit.
Clark also responded to an open letter published in the BMJ in which over 600 doctors, nurses and other NHS professionals urged Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to publish draft regulations on standardised tobacco packaging.
The letter warns there is a ’relatively short time left’ for the regulations to be introduced if they are to be voted on before next year’s general election, and asks the government to confirm they will be published in the next few weeks.
"The government is right to take its time,” said Clark. “The impact of standardised packaging on retailers and consumers could be extremely damaging.
"Evidence suggests that plain packaging could fuel illicit trade and lead to the UK being flooded with fake cigarettes. If the consultation on the regulations is to have any meaning, ministers must keep an open mind.
"A decision to introduce standardised packaging must be based on hard evidence that it will stop the next generation of children smoking. Conjecture and subjective opinion, which is all we’ve seen so far, are not enough."