Commenting on the announcement of a consultation on the plain packaging of cigarette packets, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“This consultation is a patronising and unnecessary distraction which will do nothing to improve the public’s health.
“Last year, David Cameron promised his government would no longer treat everybody like children, but would treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives.
“A few short months later and his government is launching a consultation on the plain packaging of tobacco products. The coalition is now seriously considering banning British adults from looking at certain colour schemes. A more nannying and ill-judged intrusion into our lives is hard to imagine.
“It is inconceivable that any adult in the country can be unaware that there are health risks associated with smoking. Branding and imagery on cigarette packets do not lead anyone to believe otherwise.
“Experience from other countries – such as Germany – suggests that the best way to tackle underage smoking is through improved education and better enforcement at the point of sale.
“Australia has become the first country in the world to seek to introduce plain packaging on tobacco. A sensible approach from our government would be to monitor any impact it has there over the next few years.
“The keenest enthusiasts for plain packaging in Britain will be organised crime networks who already control a substantial proportion of tobacco sales and whose lives will be made considerably easier should this policy be pursued.
“They will be aided and abetted by the campaigns of so-called health groups who receive taxpayer funding to prosecute an endless war on those adults who choose to smoke.”
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Notes to editors
“No more of a government treating everyone like children ...let's treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives.” – David Cameron quoted in The Observer