Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Plain packaging may not work, but that's not the point

Can't say I have ever been a fan of Ian Paisley (whichever), but the logic in this piece is risible.
Maybe plain packaging on fags isn't going to stop them being bought. Maybe it will make smuggling easier if all branding is removed. I don't know. But that's not the point.
Of course it's the point. The author admits that the policy may not have its desired effect (indeed may have an adverse health outcome) once passed into law. But her message is that this doesn't matter: what matters is being politically on-message and knocking tobacco companies because 'reputable person' knows how bad smoking is.

But Nuala, really, what is the point of an anti-tobacco policy that assists the sale of illegal and even less safe cigarettes? What kind of a health outcome is that?

She argues that a campaign based on threats to jobs could be unethical because if all jobs mattered people could get paid to dangle babies over cliff tops for fun. Somehow laws are made to prevent such unethical forms of employment:
But that's why we have laws, isn't it? To impose a consensus about what's acceptable and what's not, on the general public.
That's not my understanding of a law: this is as much as to say that the government is there to tell us what to think, and tell us what our values should be. Impose a consensus? Can anyone advise where she learned that? Is it recognisable legal theory?

Nuala's conclusion?
Smoking belongs in the past. God help people who are addicted, it's hard to give up. But that doesn't mean we should keep making the things and profiting from another generation's misery. 

Having just declared that a growth in illicit sales doesn't really matter, this line of argument is hard to swallow.     Nuala clearly has gripes with the influence of Paisley when she mentions the burning of Irish flags (she may have a point there), but you don't need to support Paisley to realise that this is totalitarian nonsense of the first order.


Jay said...

Well, at the risk of preaching to the choir, the real reasons for plain packs are:

1. An attack on current smokers by taking away their "brand identity" if they have one. See also item no. 3 and 7.

2. Purposefully make it difficult for retailers and shopkeepers. The idea is to get them to stop selling cigarettes altogether because it's too much of a pain, takes too much time, and annoys their customers.

3. To make all cigarettes the same size, i.e. get rid of slims and extra-long varieties and see these disappear from the market altogether. Force smokers, particularly women, to give up their "feminine" brands to the gov't approved one-size-fits-all masculine brands.

4. To INCREASE the illicit market. Yes, they really want this to happen. Nothing would please the antis more than this, as then they could brand all smokers as criminals (which they do already for the most part). When this happens, and it will happen, they will use it as a weapon in an attempt to ban tobacco sales altogether.

5. To INCREASE the counterfeit market so that more smokers will be harmed by the dodgy fags. The idea is to get the ill enough to quit. Ever seen anyone smoke a truly dodgy counterfeit? I have. It's not pretty. One cigarette can really make you ill or vomit. The antis want this to happen. Trust me.

6. To hurt the profits of tobacco companies. If all brands look the same, and because they have no marketing or advertising, then the companies will be unable to charge more for the premium brands. This is a primary objective for the tobacco control industry. Profits.

7. To make the hand-rolling tobacco market far more expensive or equally as expensive as machine-made cigarettes. Yes, brands like Amber Leaf are sold in pack-size boxes, but you cannot put a 50 gram pouch in one of those packets. And that's the idea... (to be honest, some tobacco companies despise HRT since the margins are incredibly low -- they make far more money from one pack of 20s than they do on 25g pouch.)

Oh, there's more probably, but I've typed enough.

Anonymous said...

8. When all cigarettes are sold in the same size packets, to gradually reduce the approved size of packets and thus the contents.

Belinda said...

Black marketeers will love it.