News & Comment

Forest announces no to plain packs campaign team

Tue 7th February, 2012

Hands Off Our Packs, which will be launched officially later this month, will be led by Angela Harbutt who worked in the television broadcast industry for 20 years.

After leaving the television industry Harbutt worked for Sir Menzies Campbell when he was leader of the Liberal Democrat party. She has also assisted a number of civil rights and freedom groups including NO2ID during its successful campaign against compulsory ID cards. Today Angela runs the popular blog Liberal Vision. 

Commenting on the government’s plan to launch a consultation on plain packaging in the spring, Harbutt said: “I am saddened that the Coalition Government is even considering plain packaging before the effects of the forthcoming tobacco display ban can be assessed. 

“Plain packaging is not just an attack on the intellectual property rights of legitimate companies, it’s a direct assault on individual freedom and a smack in the face for millions of law-abiding consumers who don’t appreciate being denormalised and treated like second class citizens.”

A smoker for the last eight years, Harbutt, 48, said: “Plain packaging is not just illiberal, it is likely to be counter-productive if the aim is to reduce smoking rates. I didn’t start smoking because I was attracted to the packaging and I don’t know anyone who did. If government insists on telling teenagers how to behave they are far more likely to rebel.”

Harbutt will be joined by Amul Pandya, a law graduate from Southampton University. Pandya said: “There is a worrying trend amongst democratic societies of governments seeking to micro-manage our lifestyles. Despite being told these are times of debt and austerity, taxpayers’ hard earned cash is being thrown at lobbyists who tell us what and when to eat, how much to run and therefore sit, and when, where and in what way we can drink or smoke. 

“Plain packaging is just a small part of this trend and it is essential that as many people as possible send a message to politicians that we are fed up with our elected representatives fiddling with our lives instead of addressing far more important issues." 

Announcing the Hands Off Our Packs campaign team, Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “We are delighted to have recruited two highly accomplished campaigners. They are both passionate about this important issue and we look forward to working with them.”

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