Commenting on reports that the government has decided to legislate for the plain packaging of tobacco products, Christopher Snowdon, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
"It's hard to believe that the government would ignore the responses to the public consultation which were two to one against plain packaging. Around 500,000 members of the public, as well as numerous serving police officers, members of parliament, trade associations, intellectual property experts and trade unions have expressed serious concerns about this measure. Surely a Prime Minister who promised us in 2008 that the 'era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end' will ultimately reject this idea.
"It is only a few days since various medical groups demanded that the government mandates cigarette-style graphic health warnings on wine bottles, so we are acutely aware of the 'slippery slope' that is likely to follow plain packaging of tobacco. As the government must surely know, undermining competition and intellectual property rights puts it in murky waters. Even New Zealand is waiting to see how the various legal issues are being resolved in Australia."