Cigarette packaging: A U-turn on a U-turn?

Laura Kuenssberg

Former Business Editor

Cigarette packs with brands have been replaced with health warnings in Australia.

A couple of days ago the Chancellor wanted to be seen to be standing up for people against the less savoury parts of the financial industry with a surprise promise to cap pay day loans.

Now the government appears poised to change its mind again, on a plan that will go down extremely badly with another large and powerful industry.

Reports suggest that within days the government will announce another review of introducing plain packaging on cigarette packets, a move that had all but been ditched, that will pave the way for plain packets to be the norm before the general election.

Read: Report - Cigarettes to be sold in plain packets in U-turn

Government sources insist they have always "promised to listen to consultation".

But they had been accused of listening too much to the industry, and not enough to health campaigners and the medical profession.

With the prospect too of an attempt in the House of Lords to reintroduce the idea, the Prime Minister appears to have changed his mind, and now be committed to bringing in the plan and soon.

And after Ed Miliband's promise to freeze energy bills gave him momentum, next week the Chancellor's autumn statement is likely to include measures to reduce some parts of our energy bills.

Despite the coalition's insistence it has not abandoned a belief in free markets, the government's habit of intervening in business is becoming quite a habit.