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Cigarette packaging decision 'will cost lives'

Plans to sell cigarettes in plain packaging have been postponed.

The government says it needs more time to examine how a similar move is working in Australia. There are also concerns a fall in cigarette sales might hit jobs.

But the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Dr Harpal Kumar, told the Today programme's James Naughtie the decision will cost lives.

"For every year of delay on a measure like this, more than 200,000 children take up smoking," he explained.

And added that "it's about willingness to make a decision that is going to affect the generations in the future."

Mark Field, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's decision is "to be welcomed", emphasising that "we live in a free society".

The BBC's deputy political editor James Landale, who broke the story on Thursday, outlined the government's reasons for its change of heart.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday 12 July 2013.

  • 12 Jul 2013
  • From the section Health