Christopher Snowdon writes for Public Service Europe
It is easy to see why anti-smoking policies sail through parliament so regularly. They allow politicians to make a gesture about an unhealthy habit at little or no cost to themselves. The latest wheeze is plain packaging, a policy that has never been tried anywhere in the world, but which the crusaders nevertheless claim to have a mountain of evidence which proves it will work. The evidence they cite shows nothing of the sort. They merely ask people whether they think a conventional cigarette pack looks better than a mocked up plain pack, which is coloured ‘faecal brown’ and sports a large photo of a gangrenous foot. It is no great surprise that those surveyed usually prefer the normal pack, but it tells us nothing about whether fewer people would smoke as a result. If you give me a wine label and a felt tip, I will make it look less appealing, but I would never be so disingenuous as to claim that I can reduce underage drinking using the same tools.
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