The government has launched a consultation on the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products - be warned the questions are loaded and partisan. However, you do get the chance to make your comments. My advice - be moderate in your comments, provide evidence where you can and stick to the core objections:
1. The proposals fail to understand the role of brands:
"Branding fulfils many significant and positive functions for both consumers and markets. Take it away and consumers lose out and markets become commoditised, with price rather than quality being the influencing factor. As well as calling on Government to consider carefully whether plain packaging will yield any positive impact in practice, we will also encourage it to look at all the possible negative impacts."
2. Plain packaging makes counterfeiting and illicit sale of cigarettes more likely:
BASCAP (Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy) is concerned that plain packaging requirements would increase the prevalence of counterfeit goods in the market and reduce brand owners' ability to take action against such activity, besides undermining the ability of consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Trademarks serve these important functions in the market for all branded goods. Plain packaging [is] likely to increase rather than decrease burdens on already overstretched public agencies working to enforce intellectual property protections in the face of escalating counterfeiting and piracy in the United Kingdom and worldwide."
3. Plain packaging threatens jobs:
Mr Barber said: “These proposals could have serious implications for our business as tobacco packaging is vital to our turnover. It could cost up to 50 per cent of the jobs here."
4. The proposals will damage businesses:
...a report from Deloitte titled “Potential impact on retailers from the introduction of plain tobacco packaging”, February 2011, states that the operator of a service station can expect to incur additional staff costs of between A$9,000 and A$34,000 due to the extra work that would be required to handle plain packaged tobacco products.
I'll leave you to add your comments on how the proposals are illiberal, anti-business and based on the flimsiest of evidence. I would also urge - as well as responding to the consultation - for you to write to your MP making the above points - this is an unjustified idea without evidence that will destroy jobs, promote crime and damage personal liberty.
The consultation is here - be prepared to give an hour of your time.
And just for the record, I am a non-smoker.