Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Nonsense from ASH Scotland on plain packaging

Sheila Duffy writes in a press release today about overwhelming support for plain packaging measures for tobacco, found in a Yougov poll. In today's ASH Scotland bulletin she links to a briefing on 'what the tobacco industry says', as if the tobacco industry were the only significant opposition to the tobacco display ban. The Institute of Ideas article by Chris Snowdon discusses other issues, citing several other bodies all concerned enough about plain packaging to get together and issue a warning about it (original press release no longer available) – all dismissed by Ms Duffy as the ravings of a 'right wing think tank'. Just shoot the messenger, why don't you?

Responding to the slippery slope argument, that this will pave the way for plain packaging to be enforced on other product categories, she also declares:
Tobacco is a special case. It is the only legal consumer product which is lethal to its user when used exactly as the manufacturer intended. Tobacco is the single largest cause of preventable death, killing many more people than alcohol, road accidents, homicides and illegal drugs put together. White bread or crisps do not do this – and plain packs for tobacco will not set a precedent for other consumer products.
This 'special case' argument also appears in her letter to the Herald dated 21 February. Tobacco is a special case only because fighting it is what gives you a livelihood, Ms Duffy.

Only a month later (on the sixth anniversary of the Scottish smoking ban!) the Commons Select Committee on Health announced a public consultation on alcohol. This covers a multitude of issues including minimum pricing, raising the minimum age for drinking, and an advertising ban and plain packaging. There's always an exception, isn't there?

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