A leading health charity is urging the Assembly to support a motion later today that would clear the way to removing branding from cigarette packs in Northern Ireland.
The eleventh-hour vote comes in advance of the Children and Families Bill, which is due to become law on Wednesday.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) has written to all MLAs to ask for their support in protecting children from taking up the smoking habit, with the introduction of plain cigarette packs.
Failure to support the Legislative Consent Motion would leave Northern Ireland as the only area of the UK where tobacco manufacturers would be able to continue using branding to make their product more attractive to young people.
NICHS chief executive Andrew Dougal said: “It is imperative that our MLAs seize this opportunity to enable the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging in Northern Ireland.
“A major review of 37 studies into the likely impact of plain tobacco packaging has shown that branding distracts from the health warnings on cigarette packets.
“It also found that young people found standardised packs less attractive than the branded versions.”