Chris Snowdon writes for Conservative Home
One consequence of the “something must be done” attitude towards smoking in government is that nearly everything has been done. The quixotic policy of plain packaging is at the bottom of a well-scraped barrel. When Action on Smoking and Health surveyed the public in 2008, plain packaging was the least popular of the dozen anti-smoking policies they suggested, with less than half of those questioned in support. It has risen to the top of the list largely as a result of an exceptionally nanny statist Australian government showing campaigners that it was politically feasible. If it feels as if the issue has been around forever it is because the campaigners have spent so much (taxpayers’) money on the crusade that they will not let it go.
It is only four months since the UK government put the policy on ice, wisely deciding to monitor the situation in Australia. Since then, the only evidence that has surfaced is a study which found there are more counterfeit cigarettes in Australia than there were before, a study that found no decline in the Australian smoking rate, and a survey that found that some Australian smokers had thought about quitting but hadn’t actually done so. This hardly represents a compelling case for Britain to introduce a legally dubious policy that has been rejected in a public consultation and is likely to boost an already sizeable black market in tobacco.
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