Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of leading anti-tobacco charity ASH Scotland said on Friday:
We know that plain, standardised packaging will make tobacco less attractive to young people. The tobacco industry knows it too and that is why they are throwing millions of pounds at opposing it. The argument over plain packaging has been won and it is it time to bring forward legislation.
No, the argument has not been won.
Not according to the retailers who know their trade and customers, and who believe that this legislation will kill off the corner shop just as the Health Act smoking ban has decimated pubs, clubs, live music venues and cafes.
Not according to the Police who believe that it is an open-door policy for counterfeiters and black marketeers to ply their trade: the same police who are unable to control the flow of illegal drugs and will now be expected to stem the growing numbers of gangs and dealers who will supply the demand for tobacco.
Not according to Trading Standards, nor to HMRC, who have not said a single word on the issue: maybe they already know what's coming and are not rocking the boat.
Not according to the smokers either: they know why they started smoking, they know why they continue to smoke and it was nothing to do with pretty coloured packs.
Yet ASH call them all liars: the traders, the police and the smokers, anyone who opposes them is wrong, or employed by the tobacco companies (perhaps ASH believe the Police are also employed by the tobacco companies?). ASH makes sweeping statements that are designed to frighten or mislead: statements like ‘the debate on tobacco is over’. If it is over why is there so much opposition? If it is over they do not need any more legislation, in fact they do not need to exist at all! Is it time to save £millions of taxpayers' money and stop paying ASH and their tobacco control industry colleagues? After all, they claim to have won the tobacco war arguments so they are now surplus to requirements.
And when the Department of Trade and Industry get wind of the loss of revenue and the Department of Works and Pensions have to pay out more unemployment benefits to ex-retailers as well as ex-publicans, maybe they will place the blame where it belongs: on the Department of Health and its funded lobbyists.
No, ASH. The argument over plain packaging has not been won; the decision has not yet been made; and it is not time to bring forward yet more legislation. It will reduce our freedoms even more, substantially reduce revenue to the government, and destroy the retail trade as it did the pubs.
Smoke Ban Review
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