ANTI-SMOKING campaigners have expressed their delight that a vote by MSPs could pave the way for plain tobacco packaging to be introduced in Scotland.
Holyrood unanimously backed a legislative consent motion that would allow any future legislation on plain packaging brought in by the UK Government to apply north of the border too.
Westminster is set to make a final decision on whether plain packaging should be introduced in the coming months, after an independent review is published.
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But Holyrood would still be able to introduce the change if Westminster opted not to go ahead.
Sheila Duffy, the chief executive of ASH Scotland said: "We are delighted that the legislative consent motion was given overwhelming support.
"Standardised tobacco packaging is an important smoking prevention measure to reduce the appeal of tobacco products to young people, and one that is strongly supported by the independent scientific evidence. Arguments and evidence against standardised packaging come almost exclusively from those with a financial interest in the sale of tobacco products, and are scientifically flawed.
"It is also encouraging that the Scottish Government will maintain the ability to forge ahead swiftly and unilaterally, as previously planned, should the UK Government decide not to proceed."
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said last year he was determined Scotland would be "at the forefront of those countries committed to bold action to reduce the harm to our health caused by tobacco".