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Monday
Feb162015

Invitation to Stop The Nonsense

Exactly three years ago Forest launched the Hands Off Our Packs campaign against standardised packaging of tobacco with a drinks reception at the old St Stephen’s Club in Westminster.

I wrote about it here.

Describing our “unconventional libertarian campaign” video, the Financial Times wrote:

The footage resembles a music video for an anarchist punk-rock band. Policemen, warning signs, CCTV cameras and spiked fences appear in a rapid sequence of black and white shots. A thrashing guitar soundtrack begins – cue the message: “Welcome to Nanny Town”.

The Hands Off Our Packs campaign had two goals: one, to generate as much noise about the issue as possible; two, to mobilise public opposition to plain packs. It’s fair to say we succeeded on both counts.

Since February 2012 plain packaging has rarely been out of the news and Forest has led the resistance online, in print, on radio and on television. In 2012 the Government’s 16-week consultation attracted a record 665,989 campaign responses, two-thirds (427,888) opposed to the policy. The Hands Off Our Packs campaign generated 269,852 of them.

Last year Forest responded to a further six-week consultation by generating 123,269 campaign responses (plus 53,000 letters to the Prime Minister). Remarkably this represented 90.4% of the total number of campaign responses.

Despite this overwhelming demonstration of public opposition to plain packaging, MPs are expected to vote in favour of the policy in March. Next week therefore, on Tuesday 24th February, we’re hosting another drinks party – Stop The Nonsense: An Evening of Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging – at the Institute of Directors in London.

Our impressive line-up of speakers includes Mark Littlewood (Institute of Economic Affairs), John O’Connell (TaxPayers Alliance), Dr Madsen Pirie (Adam Smith Institute), Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), Rory Broomfield (Freedom Association), Emily Barley (Conservatives for Liberty), Patrick Sullivan (Parliament Street), Angela Harbutt (Liberal Vision) and Chris Snowdon (author, Velvet Glove Iron Fist).

Speakers will be filmed, guests will be interviewed (optional), and a video will be posted online and sent to MPs ahead of the vote next month.

According to reports at least 100 Conservative MPs and twelve Labour MPs may vote against plain packs. If we can demonstrate the strength of opposition to standardised packaging others may follow.

If you’re opposed to excessive regulations that infantilise us all please join us for what promises to be a lively and entertaining evening with FREE drinks and light refreshments at an impressive location. It’s also a chance to network with representatives of some of our most active think tanks and campaign groups.

RSVP events@forestonline.org or telephone Nicky on 01223 370156. Friends and colleagues welcome.

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