Liberal doctors back plain packs for cigarettes

LIBERAL MPs Dr Andrew Southcott and Dr Mal Washer have argued the Gillard Government’s proposal for plain packaging of tobacco products would cut smoking rates, despite their leader Tony Abbott’s continued scepticism.

Mr Abbott has declined to support the proposal until the Coalition can assess legislation, which is expected to be introduced in July.

But Dr Southcott, who as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Wellbeing will lead the Coalition debate on the issue in the Lower House, said he believed the measure would be effective.

“I think it will have an impact on the number of people who take [up smoking] and those who are thinking about quitting,” he said.

Dr Southcott said media reports that he and former GP Dr Washer had threatened to cross the floor on the issue were incorrect.

“As a doctor, I do have a responsibility [to public health], but I also have to make sure I can take the