Tobacco companies could be forced to sell cigarettes in plain packets to deter young
Tobacco companies could be forced to sell cigarettes in grey or brown plain packaging in an attempt to deter youngsters from taking up smoking.
British Ministers are considering switching all brand packs to a standard colour so brightly coloured packages will not lure prospective smokers from a young age.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said colourful packs were widely accepted as the last form of marketing available for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers.
The current intention is to ask UK retailers to cover up their displays of cigarettes so that children are not attracted by the packaging.
But ministers want to see if changing cigarette packet appearance could deter children from taking up smoking, the spokeswoman said.
Plain packs would show only basic information and health and picture warnings.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging."
Action on Smoking and Health called for Mr Lansley to set a date for switching the packets immediately.
Despite opposition from the tobacco industry, Australia plans to have plain-packaged cigarettes on shop shelves by July 2012.
Earlier this year, Cancer Research UK welcomed the move calling for similar legislation to be introduced in England.