Plain Packaging, by Order of the State

by Andrew Stuttaford

Britain’s generally useless and often destructive (but less destructive than Labour!) Conservative-led coalition is ratcheting up the power of the state just a bit more.

The Guardian has the details (my emphasis added):

Standardised plain packaging for cigarettes is to be introduced in England, following a comprehensive review of the evidence which found unbranded packs could cut the number of children starting to smoke.

Public health minister Jane Ellison [a member of the Conservative Party] told the House of Commons that she would introduce draft regulations swiftly “so it is crystal clear what is intended” – although there will be a short consultation.

Sir Cyril Chantler, who was asked to look at the potential benefits, particularly to children, of plain packaging after the government postponed a decision last summer, made “a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced, it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health,” Ellison said….

The Chantler review found that standardised packaging — which in Australia involves the entire packet being taken up by graphic health warnings — is likely to contribute to a modest but important reduction in smoking, including a drop in the number of children who start.

“There is very strong evidence that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion increases the likelihood of children taking up smoking,” says the report.

“Chantler, who was once himself a smoker and found it hard to quit, said that “given the suffering that smoking causes, and the fact that most people start when they are children, even a small effect is very important.”

More than 600 children aged 11 to 15 start to smoke every day – more than 200,000 a year. If that number could be cut even by 2%, said the review, 4,000 fewer would take up the habit.

…Public health campaigners were delighted by the findings. “The Chantler review has backed a significant step towards a healthier future for the UK’s children,” said Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive. “We’re very pleased the government will now move forward and lay out draft regulations on standardised packs. This should happen as quickly as possible.

“Every day hundreds of children are lured into smoking – an addiction that kills and causes at least 14 different types of cancer. Children find the brightly coloured and slick designs of today’s packs appealing.”

In a way, a classic of this miserable genre.

David Cameron, Jane Ellison, just go away.

For the adults. 

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