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« Who would you rather spend an evening with – Noel Gallaher or Adrian Everett? | Main | David Cameron: no decision on plain packaging »

Cameron on plain packaging: "We have to treat people and businesses fairly"

Further to my previous post, here's the full transcript of the exchange between a local tobacco packaging manufacturer and David Cameron in West Yorkshire today:

Mike Ridgway, tobacco packaging manufacturer:
Prime Minister, welcome to Yorkshire and welcome to the centre of manufacturing. Yesterday the front page of the Guardian reported that the government had decided to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

Last week at PMQ you said that you were following Australia and you were monitoring the situation. Can you confirm whether that decision has been taken yet? And the reason I ask is that we have three very successful businesses here Bradford area, employing many hundreds of people, and they really want to know what the latest is on is on that, concerning their future.

David Cameron:
OK, well, first of all, the decision has not been taken, I think, as I said in the House of Commons, which you saw some weeks ago. I think we have to look at all of these issues around smoking and health, and we have to look at the evidence, and we have to work out the right course to take.

In terms of the packaging, it is only Australia I think so far that has made this decision. I think we have to accept the links between smoking and health are now proved beyond all peradventure. I think we also have to accept that, while some of us might have taken a different view at the time, restrictions on, for instance, smoking in public places have had a pretty dramatic health effect, and so I think we have to deal with the evidence.

But I think we have to treat people and businesses fairly as we do so, and we should properly consider all of the statistics and all of the evidence before making that decision.

Forest press release to follow.

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Reader Comments (13)

The smoking ban has had no disecernible effect on health whatsoever. He's either an idiot or a liar. I suspect a liar.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 17:49 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

Plain packaging apart, this is not the first time he has said this:

"I think we also have to accept that, while some of us might have taken a different view at the time, restrictions on, for instance, smoking in public places have had a pretty dramatic health effect, and so I think we have to deal with the evidence. "

Well if we are going to "deal" with it, how about showing us some evidence of a "pretty dramatic health effect"?

Because I'm buggered if I've seen any!

Or does he believe in (heart attack) miracles?

You know, I bet he does.

Silly, unintelligent little man!

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 17:57 | Unregistered CommenterBrianB

That's unfair. Far be it for me to defend David Cameron but the DH will have given him all the propaganda about reductions in heart attack admissions since the smoking ban etc (or he will have read about it) and while we've had the chance to examine the 'evidence' in detail and debunk it you can't expect the PM to.

Yes, it would be nice to think he'd bit a little more sceptical (as he should) but it's wrong to brand him an idiot or a liar. Save that language for others more deserving.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 18:02 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Jonathan, it just goes to show how out of touch David Cameron is and the rest of the "college kids" running the country. Simon I'm glad I was some help towards this story and you have covered it very well. Last night on LBC Duncan Barkes show, a top class radio presenter, for the first hour of his show he spoke about this issue and hardly anybody agreed with plain-packaging.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 18:08 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

Wasn't it only two days ago that a report was published which showed that there hasn't been a noticeable decline in smoking-related illnesses - so hardly a "pretty dramatic health effect" arising from the ban?

Perhaps I've misunderstood and there has been a pretty dramatic health effect but not dramatic enough and that more needs to be done to stop smoking from being the biggest preventable cause of premature death from (fill in the blank with illness of choice).

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 18:37 | Unregistered Commenterjoyce

I believe Simon is correct in assuming that Cameron et al have, purely, relied on the briefings given by the DoH. We all know what that's about, 'research' and 'reports' from the likes of Pell, 'surveys' from the likes of ASH, etc.

I wonder if anybody has sent, direct to the PM's office, the information that the cyber world has access to. God, there's enough of it about to be seen, reports and surveys, breakdowns and analyses, from all over the place and each one completely dismantling the claims that, no doubt, have been submitted by the DoH and their lapdogs the APPG. Stuff that wouldn't, usually, be given the light of day within the vaunted Palace, thanks to their filtering.

If only. I wonder. A comprehensive 'report' submitted direct, copies to the likes of Davies, etc.? Lets take Cameron at his word. Not an easy job, I know, but a possible 'in'.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 18:42 | Unregistered CommenterFrank J

What surprises me is that the PM does not have an independent group of advisors whom he has chosen personally to examine the sort of claims about the beneficial health effects of the ban which the DoH claim.
In fact, as far as I can remember, we have yet to see any real, substantiated claims at all.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 22:31 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

"No decision made yet." Really? Honestly? I doubt that very much. I've long thought that whatever any politician says, they invariably mean the complete opposite. Not just "something a bit different." The complete opposite. Keep an eye on what pans out over plain packaging now. I'd bet my bottom dollar, now that Cameron has said what he's said, that the decision has been made to introduce plain packaging at the earliest opportunity, and that absolutely no attempt will be made to be fair to either businesses or people.

And the fact that he states that there has been a "dramatic improvement" in health as a result of the smoking ban is a clear indication that he darned well knows that the opposite (again) is true - if anything, people are less healthy now than they were before the ban, because thousands are now isolated, miserable and depressed.

Once you start automatically reversing whatever politicians say, it becomes very easy to ascertain what their real plans are and what their real knowledge is about anything. Thanks for the indications, Dave - at least we all now know!

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 0:04 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

If the Prime Minister of this country genuinely believes that the smoking ban has led to demonstrable immediate health benefits his view has to be based on advise from the DoH, which demonstrates beyond all doubt that the DoH is a foul, corrupt and dishonest organization that is in desperate need of reform. The fact that Cameron is a thick, gullible fool obviously contributes but the blame rests squarely on the most undemocratic and unscientific of all government departments. The DoH is a disgrace to the UK as is its medical establishment. Both are massive drains on resources that do not justify their cost or the huge damage that they do to our society.

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 1:16 | Unregistered CommenterChris Oakley

“I think we have to accept the links between smoking and health are now proved beyond all peradventure"

So if I wish to retain my health, I need to smoke???

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 5:27 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I disagree Simon. We cannot expect Cameron to understand the intricacies involved in rigging a study to show a non-existent effect but he should be educated enough to understand the importance of objectivity and inquisitive enough to use more than one source of information. I suspect that he has both fingers in his ears and no interest in listening to any views that disagree with his own.

Furthermore, he is ultimately responsible for the increasingly appalling Department of Health. He has done absolutely nothing to curtail extremism and dishonesty within that department.

He may not be intentionally lying when he makes claims about health benefits that exist only in the minds of public health fanatics but what he is saying is manifestly untrue and I do not accept that the defense that he is only saying what his advisers are telling him to say. They are after all his advisers and even if he lacks the intellectual capacity to understand that he is being lied to, he should be at least suspicious of the motives of those who consistently espouse illiberal causes.

It would of course help if the mainstream media reported the junk science that underpins his comments fairly and critically or better still ignored it. The BBC in particular is guilty of helping to create the myth that the smoking ban has led to measurable short term health benefits. It hasn't and it was never likely to.

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 9:08 | Unregistered CommenterChris Oakley

"Yes, it would be nice to think he'd bit a little more sceptical (as he should) but it's wrong to brand him an idiot or a liar. Save that language for others more deserving." - Simon.

Sorry to disagree with you, Simon, but is has been obvious to many from the word "go" that Cameron is a smooth and rather slimy operator. Furthermore, having broken his word on so many occasions, on major issues, I don't even think the majority of his own party think much of him either. In fact, many Conservatives of my own acquaintance are in despair that they have a leader who displays such a poor grasp of Conservative values!

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 9:23 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

The issue has become so warped that he probably thinks treating people fairly is to put them out of work, for their own good to find better more healthy jobs, and to punish adult tobacco consumers by removing their right to price compariosn and brand recognition - for their own good of course. I trust none of them and I believe nothing they say.

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 9:58 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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