Thurrock Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price rose during a health debate and one could have been forgiven for expecting the usual prohibitionist crowd-pleasing rhetoric.
I wish to turn my attention to another issue that was not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech but which is on the Government’s legislative timetable for the coming year: the plan to introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products.What a pleasant surprise, then, that she continued thus.
I have to say to the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend Norman Lamb that it is a very bad idea.Not just dubious, unproven or contentious, you notice. Nope, "very bad".
I have worries that this tool is not effective and that its unintended consequences may bring about worse health outcomes than doing nothing at all. Sir Cyril Chantler is said to have examined that as part of his review, but I am not persuaded of the evidence. In particular, I believe that introducing standardised packaging will worsen the public health outcomes if unregulated illicit tobacco products replace the regulated ones.
I commend The Sun for the exposé it ran last week in which an illicit producer from Indonesia explained just how toxic some of his products are and how standardised packaging will help him make money by reducing the costs of production.She's right of course. But in the commons, there is always a tobacco control industry stooge around when ASH and their tax-sponging friends need one.
Alex Cunningham (Stockton North, Labour)
The Government’s own inquiry showed that there would not be an increase in the amount of illicit tobacco traded in this country. Does the hon. Lady not trust her own Ministers and the report they commissioned?Because incontrovertible testimony from the counterfeiters themselves is not good enough for inveterate anti-smoker Cunningham. That kind of thing is not concrete enough, oh no. Only shonky reports packed with pre-conceived conclusions and 'evidence' rigged to suit his personal opinion will do.
Doyle-Price wasn't having any of his crap though.
I was quoting that report and challenging its conclusions, which are based on a flawed analysis of the market - that is what I have been trying to explain. No, I do not trust that report. It is superficial and it has been put together with a particular agenda. As I say, it will lead to unintended consequences which will be very bad for public health.Hey, Alex and Cyril, your bluff has been called and raised. Bravo Jackie!