In a press release which was surprisingly shunned by most news outlets (Mirror and Independent excepted), the BHF advance one of the many paper thin justifications that anti-smoking organisations are dreaming up to hide the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that plain packaging will have any effect on smoking rates - in children or anyone else.
Among the 2,700 16 to 25-year-olds polled, just over a quarter of regular smokers judged one cigarette brand to be less harmful than another purely on the basis of packaging.You see, the tobacco control cult are unanimous that dose does not make the poison when it comes to tobacco. It is, apparently, a unique product which manages to circumvent the globally accepted rules of chemistry and biology (and even physics in some instances). This point is explained further in the BHF's tobacco marketing policy statement (via Belinda, emphasis mine).
The outcomes of a study commissioned by ASH show that the branding of cigarette packs profoundly affects consumer perceptions of the attractiveness and relative safety of the products. The same research found that adults and young people were significantly more likely to rate packages with the term “smooth”, “gold” and “silver” as lower tar, lower health risk, and easier to quit compared to “regular” varieties of the same brands.What a silly idea. I wonder where they got that from, eh?
Well, perhaps from the EU.
Directive 2001/37/ECOne must wonder why the EU would be passing directives on the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields, if it weren't to 'lower health risk' and - considering everything the EU does with regards smoking is designed to reduce prevalence - make it 'easier to quit'.
Cigarettes: maximum tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields
1. From 1 January 2004, the yield of cigarettes released for free circulation, marketed or manufactured in the Member States shall not be greater than:
- 10 mg per cigarette for tar,
- 1 mg per cigarette for nicotine,
- 10 mg per cigarette for carbon monoxide.
Not convinced? OK, how about this from the Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health (SCOTH)(again, emphases mine)?
Health effects of smoking lower tar cigarettesThat would seem pretty unequivocal. Lower tar cigarettes are considered to be marginally less harmful than higher tar ones, and SCOTH even believe there is evidence to prove it.
Only prolonged smoking of low tar cigarettes can determine the extent to which health risks are reduced. UK figures show that male lung cancer diagnoses have been falling since the early 1980’s which reflects the trend in smoking which has decreased for the last twenty years. This may in part also be due to the lower tar cigarette.
Another possible explanation for the observed reduction in male lung cancer deaths may be the altered ratio between tar and nicotine in the lower tar cigarettes: the ratio between tar and nicotine has reduced as tar levels have come down and this means reduced exposure to tar and other harmful constituents of smoke measured on a per unit nicotine basis.
Every producer reacts to customer preferences, with brands in all areas introducing lines which are lower in fat, sugar, salt, alcohol content, or whatever else they have been hectored into being scared of. Tobacco is no different. Seeing that smokers were concerned about levels of tar and nicotine, tobacco manufacturers developed a range of products with differing strengths to cater for each individual's choice and risk tolerance. And, yes, "packages with the term “smooth”, “gold” and “silver”" really are lower in the ingredients mentioned, as is helpfully documented by SCOTH here.
The EU set a maximum level on tar, nicotine and CO many years ago because they fully believed that health of smokers would be improved by doing so. If not, they were just spending money for no reason whatsoever. It must be one of the two (or, most likely, both).
So, the BHF's argument here is that young people believe something - which is true according to both the EU and SCOTH - to be true, and that therefore anything indicating this truth must be eradicated.
Hmmm, unless you're a chipboard-brained politician, it's not very convincing is it? Expect much more 'evidence' of the same feeble calibre on this subject in the coming months, though.
'Cos that's the problem when you're a tobacco control junkie scratching round the bottom of the barrel for ever-diminishing fixes to satisfy your prohibitionist cravings - once the easy pickings dry up, all you're left with is the unappealing crud.