A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said colourful packs were widely accepted as the last form of marketing available for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers. [emphasis added]Go back to the Stage 3 debate on the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Act, 27 January this year, however, and the First Minister Minister for Public Health and Sport declares at Col 23103:
Therefore, I contend that the evidence for banning displays exists. For me, the most compelling point is the need to remove the last advertising loophole. [emphasis added]In the Daily Record last June, she was quoted as saying:
"... for me it's about the fact that point of sale displays are important to the tobacco industry. Why are they important - because they are the last remaining advertising that they have.
"For me that's the most compelling point, that we should remove that last advertising loophole." [emphasis added]As a clincher to the argument as to whether the evidence supports the display ban (which Ross Finnie felt at that time was 'extremely inconclusive') this is poor stuff. Less than a year later they (at any rate their English counterparts), are describing branded packaging as 'the last loophole'. Are they going to present every restriction as 'closing the last loophole'?
I can't wait for them to identify another 'last loophole'. Anti-smokers cannot trust tobacco companies to act in the spirit of the legislation, apparently unable to understand why they don't all dissolve themselves in a fit of goodwill to mankind, rather than continue to sell their products. Complying with the legislation is not enough: doing so inevitably involves 'exploiting a loophole' (such as making their displays bigger once actual advertising is illegal). I'll be looking for the next 'last loophole' that they find, and will give it about nine months.
Guardian poll on plain packaging