The Government has caused uproar among tobacco companies and trade associations with its confirmation that a vote on the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging will take place before Parliament breaks ahead of the General Election.

Health Minister Jane Ellison announced during an evening adjournment debate on January 21 that the measures would be laid before parliament.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: "The PRA remains concerned about the negative impact this will have on the independent forecourt sector."

He said there was disappointment because the Government had not yet responded to the public consultation and earlier said it would not make a decision on this policy until after the standstill period, which ends on March 2, 2015."

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "The tobacco display ban has not yet been introduced for small stores, but instead of assessing the impact of one regulation before moving to the next, the Government is pressing ahead with new and burdensome regulations for local shops. There is no convincing evidence that standardised packaging will affect smoking rates."

Imperial Tobacco said the UK Government’s decision to vote in favour of Standardised Packaging was politically motivated and contradicted evidence from Australia regarding its success.

Melvin Ruigrok, general manager of Imperial Tobacco UK, commented: "The Government should evaluate the effectiveness of current tobacco control measures before proceeding with Standardised Packaging there is no credible evidence that it will contribute to improving public health."