Thursday, 28 November 2013

More crime, more smokers, fewer jobs - hey let's do it! The story of plain packs for cigarettes.

I heard an interview on the radio about plain packs for cigarettes. The public health doctor being interviewed (I forget his name, they all blur into one hideous nannying blob in my mind) explained that it's a wonderful idea - lot's of words like'colours', 'cool', 'shiny' and 'children' were uttered capped off with the killer line, something like:

"...these are used to make people choose a particular brand."

That was it, a statement of advertising truth - it's about brand choice not product choice. And this is the basis for introducing plain packaging. There is absolutely no evidence at all that supports the idea that the shininess or otherwise of the packaging is the crucial factor in some thirteen-year-old's decision to try a fag. Indeed, if you think about this for a minute or two (especially if you were once that thirteen-year-old), you'll know it's nonsense. Of all the myriad reasons for someone starting to smoke, "it's in a gold pack" or "the pack is all pink and girly, I have to smoke" are such vanishingly small reasons as to be irrelevant.

But that doesn't stop them:

The policy – designed to make smoking less appealing to young people — appeared to have been put on hold four months ago. But Government sources indicated that ministers had decided to implement the scheme after an outcry from doctors and the Opposition.

I'm guessing that the last two words in that quote are the crucial ones - we're having a review because the government want to close off another line of criticism from Labour. This is despite what evidence we have showing what an utterly stupid and ineffective policy 'standardised packs' is:

...the accountancy firm KPMG released a report on 4 November, which highlighted how the Australian government has lost $1 billion Australian dollars in the 12 months ended in June, as a consequence of the vast jump in black market sales of cigarettes.

There was also a rise of 154 per cent in sales of manufactured counterfeit cigarettes and fake brands (known as ‘illicit whites’). One of these is called Manchester; it has a market share of 1.4 per cent, which is staggering considering they are illegal. In terms of total shipments, illicit sales of cigarettes have increased from 1.5 per cent to 13.3 per cent. And most significantly – cigarette consumption has not changed.

So there you go - these public health idiots and a ministerial class more bothered by headlines than whether a policy works propose an idea that will increase crime, cost jobs and, at best, have no effect at all on rates of smoking. It makes me want to scream - partly because these idiots still don't understand brand marketing (or even bother to ask people who do understand brand marketing what they think) but mostly because this is policy-making based on prejudice masquerading as science.


1 comment:

Smoking Scot said...

In fairness "they've" refused to let this one slide, with Bob Blackman MP (Cons) doing all he can to keep it alive. Blackman is in a Labour seat that went to the Tories in 2010 for the first time in many an election.

It's expected that he will lose that seat to Labour in 2015.

He also happens to be on Stephen Williams MP (Lib/Dem) Committee for plain packs and is supported by Stevie.

There's a very high probability that Stevie will get hoofed in 2015 as well.

And "they're" not in the least comfortable that they have to wait until 2016 for e-fags to be regulated.

Why should all the restrictions on smokers be landed on Labour? They like Labour because they signed Britain up to FCTC, so giving them the authority to pursue the directives contained therein.

They also like Labour because they do what they're told on faith and ask very few questions. And they like the Public Sector; indeed they love growing the public sector. And they wouldn't dream of freezing salaries nor messing around with pension rights, nor deferring to the omnipotent "they" - the Healthists.

No Sir, they cannot allow an outright Tory victory in 2015. I know that's very unlikely, but they simply cannot let that happen. Best to split the Tory vote by making UKIP even more attractive to smokers. That way they get a clear run for about 4 years and avoid any possibility of another Australia being visited upon them.

And Blackman? Gullible chaff.