Sunday, 21 November 2010

Plain packaging on the way, Westminster and/or Holyrood

Has Andrew Lansley, who has been weighing up whether to implement the display ban as passed into law, found an even stronger form of deterrence? The BBC announces that the Department of Health will consider requiring plain packaging for tobacco products, and that it will put together a White Paper on the subject (it also says the government 'will ask' shops to cover up displays from next year: the wording is too mild to suggest that any final decision has been made).

Compelling the sale of tobacco in plain packaging cannot fail to make counterfeiting easier and cheaper, but legislation requiring such a move has already been mooted in Australia. The Scottish Government has also expressed interest in this, but does not have the powers to pass legislation on packaging. An SNP spokesman said: “The SNP is favourably disposed to this idea, and if Westminster will not do it then the powers should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament".

It would seem that the SNP might not need the extra powers, if the Westminster government proceeds to bring in legislation. Is this a factor behind the Department of Health's interest in the idea: 'being in the lead in tobacco control'? (or do they wish to prevent the devolution of further powers?)

Within Scotland, the effectiveness of plain packaging as a deterrent to smoking is disputed. Enrico Bonadio of Abertay University predicts a price war, but Crawfood Moodie (of the Institute for Social Marketing – yes, them again!) believes that the deterrent effect will outweigh any price war. The tobacco industry has concerns over its right to a brand image, and warns of legal trouble in the event of any legislation.

Nothing would be less surprising than an aggressive policy of this kind in Scotland, where ASH Scotland rules supreme. The same cannot be said of England however, where even many Tories have felt grounds for hope that the Coalition would adopt a less 'nanny state' line of policy. Dick Puddlecote has been enjoying disabusing them of their hopes of a better future under the Coalition.

LiberalVision also comments: also disillusioned with its leaders over more central control and illiberal governance, in contrast with its promises. More criticism from the Scottish blogosphere would be welcome: surely not everyone in Scotland approves of this policy?

1 comment:

Dick Puddlecote said...

I was going to highlight Lansley's clever use of language myself but was having too much fun. :)

So his idea to assuage shop owners is, it would seem, to not force them to hide tobacco, but to ask them to.

Yeah, that'll work.

He's already turned a previously dispirited ASH into calling for measures NOW. And he thinks that a kind request is going to pour oil on the choppy waters?

The guy is quite loopy.

Oh yeah, and dangerous to the health of the nation. If any of this comes in, people will die as a direct result, no question.