THE Coalition has been accused of "playing catch up" on Scotland and of a policy U-turn after it revived the prospect of mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes in England before the next General Election.

Jane Ellison, the UK Government's Public Health Minister, announced that Sir Cyril Chantler, the eminent paediatrician, had been asked to carry out a rapid review of the evidence, to be completed by March.

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Public Health Minister, welcomed the decision but insisted Scotland was already leading the way on the issue. A consultation on plain packaging for cigarettes is due to begin in the New Year with legislation planned by 2015.

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