Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Global War On ALL 'Unhealthy' Packaging

In October, I wrote about a move by the Icelandic government to ban certain types of alcohol packaging, and how a UK civil service mouthpiece was despatched in an effort to persuade a European court to back them.
The upshot is that, not only was the Cabinet Office agent (I like that terminology, seeing as no-one but a select few would have known he was going there) objecting to the slapping down of laws against pretty packaging, he was also making damn sure that the option of no packaging at all was still allowable to a government very near to you.
It did kinda explain a little more about why plain packaging of alcohol was being considered by Westminster last spring.

A new in-depth paper has now been published discussing the court proceedings between Iceland's state monopoly alcohol retailer and the manufacturers concerned. The conclusion makes for interesting, if sinister, reading (emphases mine).
In the aftermath of the 2011 UN Political Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases, governments across the world are increasingly focusing their regulatory efforts on lifestyle risk factors, such as tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. Being that these socially-accepted behaviours have traditionally been left to individual autonomy, policymakers face the difficulty of formulating socially-acceptable, legally-viable and economically-effective policies aimed at reducing the consumption of some of the relevant products. Given the prominent role played by the appearance, imagery and general packaging of products, policymakers seem determined to reduce the ability of manufacturers to market their products as they wish. In particular, as regulators have become suddenly aware of the power of marketing to induce consumer choices, they seem ready to offset those marketing techniques (that have been in use since the 1960s) that are increasingly used to market products that are perceived as unhealthy. As a result, besides the most extreme form (generally called plain packaging), other less intrusive forms of standardized packaging are emerging. Besides the wellknown example of the visual display bans at point of sale (whose EEA-legal compliance has already been judged by the EFTA Court in the pioneering Philip Morris judgment), there are – as illustrated by the present case – other attempts aimed at depriving certain products of their most glamorous and appealing packaging components
While regulations aimed at prohibiting misleading packaging practices existed for decades in order to limit (economic) fraud, the focus of the regulatory interventions on packaging practices is now shifting to another policy goal: that of limiting the consumption of those products that – due to their constituents and effects – are increasingly perceived as unhealthy. 
By banning or limiting the visual imagery of the packaging of alcoholic beverages and making their contents more salient through mandatory labelling, the Icelandic regulations discussed in the present case seem in line with this logic. Interestingly enough, this phenomenon – as demonstrated by this judgment – is not limited to the area of tobacco, but extends to alcohol and unhealthy products as well.
In other words, governments worldwide have now decided that 'personal autonomy' - otherwise known as freedom to choose for oneself - is no longer acceptable for consumption of legal products such as tobacco, alcohol, or unhealthy food. There is little distinction going on here, they are all gateways to ill-health according to these people. Nanny knows best and will legislate them out of existence, by destroying their packaging with enforced warnings - graphic or otherwise - and the outlawing of branding if necessary.

So, when big tobacco control says, as it has done consistently, that ...
Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow
FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product, it is the only legal consumer product on the market which is lethal when used as intended. That is why the UK and over 170 other governments have signed up to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which places legal obligations on governments to strictly regulate tobacco products. Plain packs for tobacco will not therefore set a precedent for other consumer products.
... they are well aware that they are lying.

A co-ordinated and concerted effort is already underway to interfere with the packaging of every product which it has been decided is unhealthy, and it is backed by every country which has signed up to the supranational UN Political Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases. And tobacco controllers, being one of the key proponents, were there at the time and jubilant when it was signed. 

Those who have been cheer-leading for plain packaging of tobacco should be aware that they have no right to kick up a fuss when garish state warnings and/or plain packaging are inevitably extended to their bottle of Pinot Grigio, their occasional fast food treat, or even their kids' Freddo the frog.

There is no myth here. It's no longer if it will happen to other products, but when.


nisakiman said...

When I read this sort of shit, I find myself getting almost breathless with disbelief of the arrogance of these people.

...governments across the world are increasingly focusing their regulatory efforts on lifestyle risk factors...

What the fuck business is it of any government anywhere to focus on other people's lifestyles? Who gave them that right? Not me, not you, not anybody I know.

Hopefully where I live will remain an oasis of sanity in this rush to totalitarianism, at least while I'm alive; but I do worry for my children and grandchildren, trapped in the political and politically correct wasteland that is today's UK.

Truly, the socialist superstate that Hitler failed to create in the 30s is now beckoning. The incubation period is over. The generation that remembers the horror is nearly gone, and the latest intake are being programmed by the state to think the 'right' way. The master plan can be safely resumed in an overt manner.

Where's my tinfoil hat....?

woodsy42 said...

If it was genuinely unhealthy products I would have less cause for anger, but in reality this is directed at small manufacturers and innovators and designed to protect those inside the cosy elite/big pharma/big business world.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

What tinfoil hat?

“When an opponent declares, "I will not come over to your side," I calmly say, "Your child belongs to us already... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”

Dick_Puddlecote said...

True. Corporatism at its most evil.

George Speller said...

Looks like their might be a new market for those stickers. Maybe a new patent?

SadButMadLad said...

I always think that when they talk about plain packaging for products that kill, why they ignore the plain packaging issue around illegal drugs. That doesn't seem to stop them being bought and used.

But then they'll probably say "they are illegal so you can't compare them and we are only doing it to legal products in a legal manner". Totally ignoring that both are in sold in the open market and so you can compare. Markets only care about illegality when it comes to pricing.

V Hale said...

Is that picture real? If so, it's a massive own goal because I don't know ANY parent who wants that except for public health nutters who only feed their kids mung beans anyway. It's just so... creepy.
Also I'm concerned about "In the aftermath of the 2011 UN Political Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases, governments across the world are increasingly focusing their regulatory efforts on lifestyle risk factors, such as tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity."
- How do they plan on "legislating" lack of physical activity? Are there going to be mandatory fitness people must attend every day. It sounds ridiculous but there's no way that ISN'T something these fiends would approve of if they could get away with it.

Rob said...

Evil corporations could package sprouts any way they wished and kids still wouldn't go near them. Kids like sweets because they are sweets, it has fuck all to do with packaging.

They just have an extraordinary contempt for people.

Geo said...

Life style is now a disease in the eyes of the insane. Soon they will drop the word "style".

Sam Duncan said...

Okay, here's the thing about the picture: yes, given that choice, most kids would pick the colourful pack. But if white packs with plain lettering are all there is, they'll take them with equal enthusiasm. They have chocolate inside, and, as Rob says above, that's all kids care about.

Oh, and by the way: chocolate itself is brown, without any pictures of frogs on, yet somehow children go nuts for it. Go fig.

nisakiman: “What the fuck business is it of any government anywhere to focus on other people's lifestyles? Who gave them that right?”

Just what I've been saying all along. Somehow the concept of Public Health - protecting people from dangers they can't avoid otherwise - has been conflated with “the health of the public”, turning the Government into a sort of Big National Parent; something Mussolini would have understood perfectly.

sillyusername said...

I am sooo tired of centre right commentators calling Hitler a socialist. I have a lot of respect for your stance in a number of areas and for the research you do before you comment, so why oh why can you not educate yourself on this one point. You have the perfect right to decry socialism if you so chose, but please aim at the right targets. Hitler was right wing, not left wing. You can have right and left wing arseholes you don't need to co-opt right wing arseholes to make your displeasure with the left wing variety felt.

moonrakin said...

s'funny - If Adolf was around to argue the toss - it's clear he would still use the S word.

One can contrast and compare theoretical Socialism with it's practical implementation and disappear up one's own (Marxist) rear end into a very dark place. The simple truth is that doctrinaire ideologies rigidly enforced fail time and time again because usually they do not address reality in a world full of doubt,uncertainty and the occasional natural disaster. Money and influence seeking folk from the "left" or the "right" or "reds" and "greens" do use/say anything that comes to hand to coerce the masses.

Zealotry and power craziness is beyond reason and aberrant behaviour that humans are prone to - and political labels are simply redundant and to a certain extent pointless.

Four legs good, two legs bad.


Dick_Puddlecote said...

Yes, it's real. Or real in the sense that it was produced by a very famous public health prohibitionist as part of a slideshow on how great banning things is. (see pps file here)

nisakiman said...

I used the descriptor 'Socialist' because that is what the Nazi Party called itself.

National Socialist German Workers' Party

Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei

As for the precise definition of 'Socialist', well that's rather a question of semantics as moonrakin says. I'm really not a political animal, but I see it as being very subjective and open to interpretation, and I really don't think socialism can be defined in terms of 'Left' or 'Right'. It is a system that can operate successfully only by means of suppression and oppression, and though collectivist in theory in practice throws up the usual tyrants who want to bend all to their will. Whether those tyrants lean to the political Left or the political Right is irrelevant. They still operate a socialist tyranny.