Gerald Howarth

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Gerald Howarth is the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Aldershot.[1]

Plain Packaging

Voted Against Amendments to Children and Families Bill 2014

In February 2014, Howarth was one of only 24 MPs who voted against tabled amendments to the Children and Families Bill which would enable the UK government to:[2]

1. Introduce regulations requiring plain packaging for tobacco products;
2. Introduce regulations making it an offence to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18;
3. Make it an offence for an adult to buy cigarettes for anyone under the age of 18 (proxy purchasing).[3][4]

A massive 453 MPs voted in favour of the amendments.

Publication of the Chantler Review 2014

On 3 April 2014, the Chantler review of the evidence for plain packaging was published.[5]

Sir Chantler concluded:

Having reviewed the evidence it is in my view highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco. I am persuaded that branded packaging plays an important role in encouraging young people to smoke and in consolidating the habit irrespective of the intentions of the industry. (p6)[5]

The Health Minister Jane Ellison announced in the House of Commons that the Government would, as a result of the review, conduct another brief Consultation on the proposed legislation.[6] During the House of Commons debate on 3 April 2014, Ellison received questions from a number of MPs.

Howarth stated:

“It is most unfortunate that this statement has been made today, when so few Members who take an interest in these matters are present. The logic of my hon. Friend’s argument is that we should ban tobacco altogether if it does so much damage to our people. I do not believe this is a Conservative measure. It is an example of the nanny state. I see the Secretary of State whispering into my hon. Friend’s ear—I hope he is whispering some sound advice to her. At present 13% of packs sold are illicit, denying the Treasury £3 billion. If the Australian experience is anything to go by, that number is likely to rocket. What does the Minister say to that?”[7][8]

In response to Howarth’s comments and question, Ellison referred Howarth to the Chantler Review:

“I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. Taking every possible effective measure to stop children smoking is the mark of a sensible state, not a nanny state. I do not think any Member of the House would want any extra child to take up smoking, so every Government should look clearly at any effective policy that can serve to advance the achievement of our ends in that regard. Sir Cyril devotes a significant chapter in his report to illicit tobacco products, and I urge my hon. Friend to read it. Of the arguments in that area, Sir Cyril says, “I am not convinced”.”

Government Announces Intention to Proceed with Plain Packaging

On 21 January 2015 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Jane Ellison announced that the government was to bring plain packaging regulations before the May 2015 General Election.

Howarth was quoted in the media saying: “It is completely unnecessary to introduce these divisive measures. There is absolutely no evidence that it has worked in Australia. There is a risk to the public. It will throw people to the lowest priced tobacco.”[9]

HMRC Concludes “No Evidence” of Increase in Illicit Market Resulting from Plain Packaging

In February 2015 the government published a summary report of the 2014 consultation on plain packaging in the UK alongside HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) assessment of the potential impact on the illict tobacco market. HMRC conlcuded:

“We have seen no evidence to suggest the introduction of standardised packaging will have a significant impact on the overall size of the illicit market or prompt a step-change in the activity of organised crime groups.”[10]

Tobacco Hospitality

In 2014 Howarth accepted two tickets to the Chelsea Flower show worth £1,404.00 from Japan Tobacco International (JTI).[11]

For more details, see Tobacco Industry Hospitality for UK Politicians.

External Resources

Profile of Gerald Howarth on TheyWorkForYou website.

Notes

  1. Correct on 16 February 2015
  2. Hansard,Children and Families Bill (Programme No. 3), House of Commons Debates, 10 February 2014, accessed February 2015
  3. S. MacGuill. House of Enablers – Does anything now go for tobacco control in the UK? Euromonitor International, 11 February 2014
  4. Smokefree Action Coalition. SFAC welcomes Parliament’s support for a package of measures to reduce smoking and protect children. Smokefree Action Coalition News, 10 February 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sir Cyril Chantler, Standardised packaging of tobacco: Report of the independent review undertaken by Sir Cyril Chantler, Kings College London, 3 April 2014, accessed April 2014
  6. BBC, Government to move ahead with standardised cigarette packs, BBC News: Politics, 3 April 2014, accessed April 2014
  7. House of Commons Debates 3 April 2014: Tobacco Products (standardised packaging), Volume no:578, Part No:148, 3 April 2014, accessed February 2015
  8. M. Weaver, C. Barr, MPs courted by tobacco firms criticise move towards plain packaging, The Guardian, 22 January 2015, accessed February 2015
  9. C. Hope, 100 Tory MPs to fight plain packaging on cigarettes, The Telegraph, 27 January 2015, accessed February 2015
  10. HM Revenue & Customs, The introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco: HMRC’s assessment of the potential impact on the illicit market, Risk and Intelligence Service Analysis & Information, nd, accessed February 2015
  11. House of Commons Publications, Register of Members’ Financial Interests – 9 February 2015 report, 9 February 2015, accessed February 2015