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« Q: Why quote ASH and ignore opponents of ban on smoking in cars? "Why not?" says BBC | Main | Taking flight »

Keep calm and carry on campaigning

You've got to laugh.

I've just returned from seven days in Cuba (report to follow) and within twelve hours of landing the Guardian reported that the Government is to legislate on plain packaging:

Ministers are to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes along the Australian model with legislation this year, after becoming convinced that the branding is a key factor in why young people start to smoke.

The legislation, to be announced in the Queen's speech in May, is also expected to ban smoking in cars carrying anyone aged under 16 years.

Quite frankly, ASH could have written this report. I'm not saying it isn't true but I am reminded of the "confidence trick" that ASH boasted of having pulled off after MPs voted overwhelmingly for a ban on smoking in all public places:

It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition.

The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we "knew" we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side.

See: Smoke and mirrors (July 19, 2006)

Given that it worked for them before I am pretty certain that they are up to their old tricks.

There is a long way to go before this particular battle is won or lost so don't despair and don't give up! In fact there are half a million reasons why we should keep on campaigning.

If you haven't done so already write to your MP today. It takes two minutes and is time well spent.

PS. In a written answer to Alex Cunningham MP, published yesterday, health minister Anna Soubry wrote:

The Department published the “Consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products” in April 2012. A consultation-stage impact assessment was published alongside the consultation.

The Department received many thousands of responses to the consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products, including standard postcard campaigns and petitions from a range of interested parties. A summary report of consultation responses will be published in due course, which will set out the numbers and categories of responses received.

The Government has an open mind on this issue and any decisions to take further policy action on tobacco packaging will be taken only after full consideration is given to the consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.

If the Government has decided to implement plain packaging then Soubry has misled an MP (and everyone else) by claiming that it still has an "open mind" on the subject.

As I have written before, I like Soubry. She strikes me as a frank, honest, feisty politician so I would be surprised if she made a statement that was not in good faith.

Personally I believe it's wishful thinking on the part of ASH, CRUK and a "senior Whitehall source". Now, who could that be?!

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Reader Comments (7)

I have stated repeatedly that plain packs is a tool that will be used to identify tobacco and cigarettes purchased without payment of duty. The day of the SMOKE POLICE will soon be upon us!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 9:46 | Unregistered CommenterGabi Coleman

'Plain' packs will be introduced, that's a given. The consultation process is just theatre to dress the whole thing up as a 'democratic process'. The decisions were made long ago by a cosy cabal of Tobacco Control Industry lobbyists and the DoH.

I'm wondering when some enterprising chap will get permission from the major tobacco producers to make duplicate, branded cases with no warnings on them, so people can just slip the inner foil, complete with ciggys into the new box. I know the fellow in Aus has been selling stickers for the outside of packs, but a sturdy box that will last a month or two would be a better option. It would be particularly delicious if the pack replicated the original, pre-warning label packets.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 12:42 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Dear Gabi Coleman, use a cigarette case. There are lots of different styles available from Amazon and a large number of internet based independent traders. You can have any design you like on your own personal case or box. As this is what large numbers of people will do I wonder how they expect this stupid measure to have any impact at all.
Oh and don't forget to buy and wear your cigarette branded T-shirts with the logo of your choice. Then you can be a large, ambulatory protest against "plain" packaging.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 13:04 | Unregistered CommenterHeretic

Amazon won't allow the sale of ecigs on its site. How long before cigarette cases are banned?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 13:23 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

The Mail carries a quote from the DoH.

Last night a Department of Health spokesman denied a decision had been taken on plain packaging, and said 'we haven't even looked at banning smoking in cars'.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 13:50 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

These 'confidence tricks' are getting a bit boring. I mean, if the Prohibitionists in the DoH have already won the day, what is the point of the fake press releases?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 17:05 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Just seen David Cameron on Sky news, he said after a question was put to him about the above, he said no decision has been taken, we have to look at the evidence.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 13:09 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

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