The government is to reconsider introducing plain packaging for cigarettes.

Public health minister Jane Ellison announced this morning that the government had set up an independent review of the evidence for plain packaging, which will be led by the paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler and is due to report in March 2014.

If plain packaging gets the go-ahead as a result of the review, it could be introduced before the 2015 general election.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Ms Ellison said a mechanism would be introduced as part of the Children and Families Bill, currently before Parliament, that would allow the policy to be enacted quickly if ministers chose to do so.

“It’s a quick review, we’ve asked it to report by March, to have a look and take that independent view and step back from the politics of this and survey the evidence,” she said. “I think that’s the sensible next step to making policy in this area.”

Earlier this year, hopes that legislation on plain packaging would be introduced in the Queen’s Speech were dashed, as Prime minister David Cameron said he needed to see more evidence on whether it was effective.

At the time, the Association of Directors of Public Health said it was “disappointed” by this decision because there had already been “extensive public consultation” on the issue.