The Petrol Retailers Association has joined Priti Patel MP in her campaign to oppose the UK Government’s plans for plain packaging for tobacco products, a policy which it claims is already opposed by more than 70% of retailers.

Priti Patel has warned that introducing plain packaging will have a range of unintended consequences, such as increasing the illicit tobacco trade, which would hit legitimate retailers hard.

PRA members are being urged to follow Priti Patel’s call to contact their MPs and explain to them how plain packaging will affect their businesses. So far, around 50 MPs have already signed a House of Commons motion opposing plain packaging and a considerable backbench revolt is expected on the issue, according to PRA chairman Brian Madderson.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Priti Patel in her campaign to oppose plain packaging and defend the interests of small retailers," he said. "More than 80% of retailers believe that implementing plain packs would go against the Government’s pledge to help small business.

“Small retailers are facing the cost of introducing the point of sale display ban next year, so it is wrong that the government might now adopt plain packaging when there is not a shred of evidence that it would reduce smoking rates.

“We have seen in Australia that small retailers have suffered as a result of standardised packaging, losing business to larger stores and illegal trading stands. Indeed, levels of both legal and illegal tobacco have increased after years of decline. Plain packaging has done nothing to reduce child or adult smoking rates. Based on this evidence, if the UK Government proceeds with plain packaging it would be nothing more than gesture politics.

“We urge other MPs to look at the facts on plain packaging, join with Priti Patel, and consider the negative impact this policy would have on retailers without delivering any reduction in smoking rates.”