Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Last Call For Plain Packs Objections

Many of you have shared your responses to the government's consultation on the quite daft plans for plain packaging. They've all been great to read, especially the more, err, forthright ones. The process ends on Tuesday July 10th, so if you had planned to get your opinion registered on the idea and haven't yet done so, now would be the time to get a wiggle on.

There have been a few messages from fellow jewel robbers asking for a previous article here which detailed the consultation questions. Since it appears to have been helpful, I've reproduced it below for reference. It appears in a shade of blue which clashes gratingly with the theme here but what the hell, I'm feeling saucy.

For clarity, I'll also point out that the response for question 4 below was a condensing of 4a through to 4d as some have queried it, so treat those as you see fit.

To make your response direct to the Department of Health and then download a pdf copy of it to keep for good, go to the online submission form and give them a piece of your mind (politely, of course). If you have less time on your hands, do at least make sure you have objected here before Tuesday.

Sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

A couple of fellow jewel thieves have already shared their responses by e-mail - for which I'm most grateful - but here is a brief plan of how I'm intending to address the government's attempt at transparency.
1. Which option do you favour?

● Do nothing about tobacco packaging (i.e., maintain the status quo for tobacco packaging);
● Require standardised packaging of tobacco products; or
● A different option for tobacco packaging to improve public health.
Well obviously, do nothing.

There's no evidence; it clearly won't work; it is aesthetically miserable; merely a form of bullying; and proof that the government has gone power crazy in its desire to control how a so-called 'free' populace choose to live their lives. It is also proof positive - if plain packaging goes ahead - that our politicians are spineless cowards in the face of unelected state-funded quangoes and fake charities.

Who is government supposed to be acting for? The public, or unelected civil servants and their similarly tax-sponging lobby groups?
2. If standardised tobacco packaging were to be introduced, would you agree with the approach set out in paragraphs 4.6 and 4.7 of the consultation?
A nonsense question, and designed to be a leading one.

The answer is one which is not on the list, requiring a negative response. It's a common tactic of salesmen worldwide who long since realised that human beings are not comfortable with saying 'no'.

I don't agree or disagree with the plans for plain packaging, they are irrelevant. I don't think they should even be under consideration.
3. Do you believe that standardised tobacco packaging would contribute to improving public health over and above existing tobacco control measures, by one or more of the following:

● Discouraging young people from taking up smoking;
● Encouraging people to give up smoking;
● Discouraging people who have quit or are trying to quit smoking from relapsing; and/or
● Reducing people’s exposure to smoke from tobacco products?
Another cleverly-worded question designed to make even those with reservations to pick an option from the list.

The answer is, of course, none of the above. There is no evidence of any quality or repute that it will do anything of the sort.
4. Do you believe that standardised packaging of tobacco products has the potential to:

● Reduce the appeal of tobacco products to consumers?
● Increase the effectiveness of health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products?
● Reduce the ability of tobacco packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking?
● Affect the tobacco-related attitudes, beliefs, intentions and behaviours of children and young people?
Still attempting to elicit responses to agree with their own pre-conceived views, this is yet another leading question designed to be a booby trap.

Again, no, no, no and, err, no.
5. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would have trade or competition implications?
Good grief! That a government should need to ask for an answer to such a question is quite frightening. Trade marks and branding are tools used in every industry to distinguish one company's products from another. They are called 'trade' marks because they are vital for trade, and competition relies on differentiation.

Of course taking these away would have 'complications'. Is it any wonder the economy is weakly staggering like a drunken hooker at a rugby festival if it is run by politicians so stupid that they're asking our help on something so economically basic?
6. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would have legal implications?
There's a court case going on in Australia at the moment - the first of a series, I understand. What do you think, you Westminster muppets?

Of course, the last two questions - whilst seemingly transparent and seeking public opinion - are only included to lead anti-tobacco groups to peddle their daft fantasies which fly in the face of plain facts and common sense.
7. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would have costs or benefits for manufacturers, including tobacco and packaging manufacturers?
Who wrote these questions? Were they taken from a list supplied by the smokefree mafia?

"Ask any of these, please, we've got all our shonky 'studies' and soundbites ready and in pdf format!"

If there were benefits, tobacco firms and their manufacturers would have acted without your interference. There can, therefore, only be costs. It's a basic tenet of the free market, so the coalition would - obviously - not understand.
8. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would have costs or benefits for retailers?
Ask the retailers you lied to over the tobacco display ban. That consultation resulted in ASH saying that it would be a piffling amount. It has since imposed a significant cost on industry in the middle of a fucking recession.

Now, having utterly pointlessly forced them to cover the packets up, you make that expense a wasted one with this latest lunacy. Pull your trousers up, tell tobacco control to put their dicks away, and stop being a vested interest rent boy.

It will have costs. Costs!
9. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would increase the supply of, or demand for, illicit tobacco or non-duty-paid tobacco in the United Kingdom?
Listen, chumps. You are lowering the costs for counterfeiters by putting cigarettes in one standard sized, coloured, and shaped pack, instead of over 200. And you're asking if it will increase or decrease the illicit trade?

One of the central planks of tobacco control policy is that price drives consumption. If counterfeiter costs reduce, so will the street price, leading to increased consumption. If you can't see that it can only incentivise an increase, you need your head read.
10. People travelling from abroad may bring tobacco bought in another country back into the United Kingdom for their own consumption, subject to United Kingdom customs regulations. This is known as ‘cross-border shopping’. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would have an impact on cross-border shopping?
You plan on making the packs - according to your own 'evidence' - less appealing to consumers.

If the public - by your own admission - don't like plain packs, they will source more from the continent. You are adding significantly to the allure of an already cheaper product by making it even more attractive, quite literally, to make the effort to buy.

Shop owners in Belgium and elsewhere are rubbing their hands with glee.
11. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging would have any other unintended consequences?
Apart from further illustrating to the public that you're stark, staring bonkers, you mean?

Perhaps the increased illicit trade, costs to business, and infantilisation of the public just aren't enough for you, eh?
12. Do you believe that requiring standardised tobacco packaging should apply to cigarettes only, or to cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco?
The salesmanship keeps exhibiting itself, doesn't it? Again the answer isn't listed. There shouldn't be plain packaging on any of the above.
13. Do you believe that requiring standardised packaging would contribute to reducing health inequalities and/or help us fulfil our duties under the Equality Act 2010?
Well, considering it has less chance of working than a kettle made of cheese, I wouldn't have thought so.

Added business costs, difficulties for consumers, and industry job losses might have an effect. Not in a beneficial way, though.
14. Please provide any comments you have on the consultation-stage impact assessment. Also, please see the specific impact assessment questions at Appendix B of this consultation document and provide further information and evidence to answer these questions if you can.

15. Please include any further comments on tobacco packaging that you wish to bring to our attention. We also welcome any further evidence about tobacco packaging that you believe to be helpful.
Do they want a couple of essays? I'll get started then.

All done? Then sit back, pour yourself a dram, and be happy that some civil service minion will be right pissed off that you bothered. That's not what is supposed to happen when these things are buried in a government website, see?

Now though, if they do carry on with this nonsense, at least you will be able to proudly say that you tried to do something about it. And if they don't? Well, I think a claim that you helped frustrate nannying government isn't too outrageous, do you?


Smoking Hot said...

As much as l have little faith in this consultation that didn't stop me from letting them know my point of view. :)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Good man. Government deserves nothing but disdain for the way they have ignored decent taxpayers in the past few years, but the motions are still there to go through and so we have to play their games until such time it's perfectly obvious that they simply won't listen.

After serious concerns from the police, packaging companies, retailers, many MPs, and with nothing close to believable from the other side - if this consultation ignores the evidence in favour of emotional dicks with bags on their heads, I think we'll know for sure that parliament can't be trusted to run so much as a whelk stall.

truckerlyn said...

All done and thanks for the all the prompts to the answers, it saved me a lot of time.  Do hope they are sitting comfortably (not) when they digest the answers!

truckerlyn said...

Bonus on time today, Dick as my shift has been cancelled due to 3 trucks being off the road!  Might help if they acted on the defects reported by drivers, when they are reported!

Jill Curtis said...

Done and submitted. Likewise, thanks for the answers.

Haydn said...

Same here. Just hope they even give half of one shit about us members of the ordinary public and our little opinions...

Sylvia said...

"... be happy that some civil service minion will be right pissed off that you bothered."
Oh, I do hope so! ;)

Did anyone else notice that they care soooo much about their "consultation" that they couldn't even be bothered to set their spell-checker to UK English? Damn thing kept red-underlining "standardised"! (OK, so that's the case here on Blogger, I know, but somehow, and against all evidence, I still keep hoping for our officialdom to have higher standards.)