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Coloured packs are a threat to kids, says Lib Dem MP

Get ready for an all out assault on cigarette packs.

Earlier today Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, helped launch "Europe’s first major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of glitzy tobacco packaging to children".

Writing on his blog, Williams (a close confidante of ASH's Deborah Arnott) declared:

The primary aim of the campaign to introduce plain packs of cigarettes will be to protect children and young people from the subtle marketing techniques of the brand owners ...

Plain packs would be the same size, same colour, same font for the product name and nothing else other than the health warning. The Silent Salesman would not just be mute, he’d look very dull and lonely.

Funny isn't it, that when campaigners demanded a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship in the Nineties, no-one thought to mention the humble cigarette pack.

There's a simple reason for that. Packaging is not advertising in the accepted sense of the word. Like many other forms of packaging, cigarette packs are designed so that consumers can distinguish between one brand and another and make their choice accordingly.

There is not a shred of evidence that 'plain' packaging will deter teenagers from smoking which is why anti-tobacco campaigners like Williams want to go even further and introduce not 'plain' packs but grotesque packs featuring larger graphic warnings, most of them disproportionate to the actual risk.

If Williams and his ilk get their way every pack will be be a uniform colour – not white or black but a colour that, they say, appeals least to smokers. (If they use Australia as a role model it will be drab green.)

Click here to read Williams' blog. You may wish to comment.

H/T Dave Atherton

See also: The hypocrisy of ASH, Stephen Williams and Peter Hain

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Reader Comments (12)

He has over 20 comments everyone is critical. Also some of the names of commentators I do not know and must be local people or local Lib Dems.

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 19:44 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Let's change the wording just a bit.

"If Williams and his ilk get their way every /pack/ person will be be a uniform /colour/ thinker – not white or black but /a/ the /colour/ thinking that they say."

Sounds about like what they mean.

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 20:19 | Unregistered CommenterGary K.

Yet more free promotion for cigarettes and smoking!

Strange that a constantly decreasing activity ceased to decrease when the anti smokers began to become more powerful and loud.
This call for plain packaging adds to the incessant tv advertising when hardly a ad break goes by without naughty cigarettes being mentioned when promoting NRT and 'free' quit kits
The only people allowed to mention smoking are the anti-smokers and I'm sure the tobacco companies benefit from the high profile, free promotion of our wicked activity and their rather pleasant product.

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 20:55 | Unregistered Commenterchrisb

I must say this post and the response on the Williams blog are a most perfect display of a coordinated attack on the Antis. I am most impressed, may there be many more. Well done and thanks Simon and Dave.

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 20:57 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Button

Williams (a close confidante of ASH's Deborah Arnott)

Is she putting out to keep him in line??? Cannot cope with this vision better have a smoke!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 20:58 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

Not a single comment in support.

And does anyone think he will take any notice of that fact?

It's the same as the "overwhelming support for the smoking ban".

Those dissenters are just Big Tobacco shills, and as such can be discounted. The only people whose opinion matters are those who are "on message", who are part of the righteous drive to rid our planet of this evil weed.

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 22:10 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

""The primary aim of the campaign to introduce plain packs of cigarettes will be to protect children and young people from the subtle marketing techniques of the brand owners ...""

Not so. The primary aim is to chop and change the design of fag packets at will in order to increase the costs of tobacco companies and thus the price of fags. ASH has already said (as a result of a slip-up) that the primary aim of the display ban is to reduce the profitability of tobacco by making the sale of tobacco 'troublesome', for small shopkeepers especially. In addition, they want the tax to be increased substantially in order to persecute the poor as much as possible by pricing them out of the market.

The key thought for us PETS (People who Enjoy Tobacco) is that the smoking ban and all this other stuff is PERSECUTION, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with children at all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 1:40 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Actually, I rather like the colour green, in all its shades. And isn't green the generally-accepted colour indicating environmental purity, cleanliness and all things natural and unadulterated? Oh dear - will the Green Movement object?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 1:42 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I have just read Stephen Williams' replies to the commenters on his blog.

"usual suspects and front groups for the tobacco lobby"

Though I realise that he is bound by article 5.3 of the FCTC,has it not crossed his mind that when their elected representatives no longer speak for them, people have to start speaking up for themselves?

With that in mind, perhaps a little courtesy in responding to posters wouldn't come amiss.

Smearing the Opposition

"If you take part in secondhand smoke policy training in the tobacco control movement, chances are that you will be taught that all opposition to smoking bans is orchestrated by the tobacco industry, that anyone who challenges the science connecting secondhand smoke exposure and severe health effects is a paid lackey of Big Tobacco, and that any group which disseminates information challenging these health effects is a tobacco industry front group.

Consequently, the a chief strategy of tobacco control is to smear the opposition by accusing them of being tobacco industry moles. And in no situation should one say anything positive about an opponent, even if true."

So bearing that in mind, I suppose that it's easy to understand his unfortunate and inappropriate reaction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:43 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

I quite agree Junican, and in pricing tobacco out of the reach of the poor they likelihood is many will smoke instead of eat - really good for one's health! Of course, it will still be the smoking that will be to blame, but some prefer to smoking to eating if a choice has to be made! I've done it in the past and I am sure I am not alone.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 13:44 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Hmm. Surely plain packaging ought to make smoking cheaper? Tobacco companies won't be paying for design, for multiple colour printing nor display. Uniformity of packaging size and shape should bring down packaging costs, and above all they will have to compete in the only way left to them - price. Won't that make smoking more accessible to the young who are supposed to be deterred?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 14:07 | Unregistered Commentersimon(nsc)


You are absolutely correct in saying that plain packaging will make smoking cheaper. But I think it will be more because counterfeiting will be easier rather than because of any moves on the part of the tobacco companies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 19:47 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

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