"The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It's wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets.
"We would prefer it if people did not smoke and adults will still be able to buy cigarettes, but children should be protected from the start.
"The levels of poor health and deaths from smoking are still far too high, and the cost to the NHS and the economy is vast. That money could be used to educate our children and treat cancer," Mr Lansley said.
In 2004, it was widely accepted that around 25 per cent of all cigarettes and as much as 75 per cent of hand-rolling tobacco consumed in the UK were non-UK duty paid. Independent retailers put the cost to them of this trade at £1.2 billion per annum in sales. In 1999, a study showed that smuggling cost the Treasury £2.5 billion in lost revenue.
That is pretty much a guess and today's situation has got worse and the tobacco business is become less and less legal, less protected and more dangerous. And plain packaging make counterfeiting more likely, smuggling easier and, coupled with ever more draconian controls on normal retail sales, will result in yet more of the trade shifting from supermarket and corner shop to white van and sixth floor council flat. Where of course, the sale jostles for position with stolen goods, counterfeits and illegal drugs!