Friday, 9 December 2011

Lansley Goes For The Europa League Consolation Prize

One story that slipped under the radar somewhat this week was this gem from Reuters.

The government is to begin a wide-ranging consultation on plain packaging of tobacco products by the end of the year, informed by the legal challenges Australia has faced as the first nation to pass such legislation.
The emphasis is mine as this would appear to be a significant departure from the wording of the Tobacco Control Plan, published in March [page 22].

The Government will look at whether the plain packaging of tobacco products could be effective in reducing the number of young people who take up smoking and in supporting adult smokers who want to quit. The Government wants to make it easier for people to make healthy choices but wants to understand whether there is evidence to demonstrate that plain packaging would have an additional public health benefit. We will explore the competition, trade and legal implications, and the likely impact on the illicit tobacco market of options around tobacco packaging.
Well, all that could easily have been done via consultation. There's no need to wait until tobacco companies show their hand with legal challenges in Australia, is there?

Unless, of course, the policy has been decided already and that was exactly what they were waiting for before committing precious public sector funding on a scheme which would end up scuppered.

By the same token, once the decision to spend the money has been taken, does anyone really think that something as trivial as widespread antipathy/disapproval/objection by the public who, you know, pay these tedious moral panickers' wages, will act as any sort of brake?

You do? In that case, I know a guy in Nigeria who wants to give you £20m ... just pop your bank details and PIN in the comments and I'll get him to send it to you.

Course not. The Department of Health has decided plain packaging is going to happen as long as they are confident of defending tobacco industry court challenges, and there's nothing you, or anyone else, can do about it. Ain't modern 'democracy' great?

Thing is, we know full well that a greater majority of the public think this is a daft idea; that it won't have any effect on smoking prevalence; is pathetic public sector posturing; and - apart from any other reason - is life-dulling and aesthetically unpleasant. But Westminster couldn't really give a monkey's chuff what anyone who isn't paid out of taxpayer receipts thinks anymore.

A recent study reported in Austria's second largest newspaper concluded that even amongst non-smokers there was only 31% in agreement with the plan, a figure that is not likely to be any more supportive in other EU countries, including ours.

There's also no evidence at all that it will work (it won't, of course - tobacco control's woeful record is testament to that), but it's not really about whether it will or not.

Y'see, it's an EU demand, and all our egotistical politicians have left - since they were pipped by Australia in sucking up to the WHO for the main prize - is a race to be the first country in Europe to stick their tongue up John Dalli's arse. A kind of Man Utd-esque Europa League for bansturbatory losers.

In the same week that Cameron was boasting about standing up to the EU, his Department of Health colleagues were sitting up and begging for an EU biscuit by obediently planting their latest shit on the faces of British people and businesses.

We'll have a go at the consultation, I suppose {sigh}, but you may as well source your cigarette cases now (plenty available here, though branded ones would be better .. hint, hint). Those people you pay truckloads of your earnings to, have cut you out of the whole process again. Public opinion doesn't hinder them, only the threat of losing face, and cash, in court action has that effect.

Better get used to it, because as Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi points out, it won't be the last time.

Bernardi: And on the very first day [after the plain packaging legislation was passed] they moved onto drinking. People who were advocating plain packaging [for cigarettes] were saying “We should have this for alcohol. We should have it in fast food”. Where does it end? The nanny state will never end because there is always another cause to advocate for.
It would if the money which funds the nannies was cut to the bone by a government committed to liberty and a 'bonfire of the quangos', of course. Now where on Earth could we find one of those?

For a bit of related Australian precedent-following, check out Angry Exile's article today.


Sam Duncan said...

Bernardi is absolutely spot on. They won't be happy until the whole of the formerly-free world resembles Minsk circa 1978; the dull, lifeless, streets brightened only by their own propaganda posters exhorting us to eat our 5-a-Day and have a word with the friendly NHS nurse.

Well, I've only one thing to say to them. And it applies to the horse they rode in on too.

John Pickworth said...

I like Sam's 1978 analogy... I was already imagining Orwell's 1984.

I must admit, I do like the concept of plain packaging. I would hope the political parties also adopt it? No election banners, branded ads or silly coloured rosettes... after all, its merely encouraging people to vote for the twats whom when elected attempt to impose dangerous 'second-hand' (Australian and EU) legislation upon the rest of us!

Angry Exile said...

DP, it was only last month that I said to you that the UK baccy nannies would be doing the plain packs thing sooner or later, but this is a lot faster than I'd thought. They're not even waiting for it to come into force here and seeing how well it works, or more likely doesn't, before getting the ball rolling in Britain. Do you think that's because they actually expect it to have no positive effect whatsoever and possibly do the illegal tobacco trade some favours, and want to get the British legislation set up and unstoppable before it can be opposed on the grounds that it failed in Australia?