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Plain cigarette packets 'illiberal' says leading think tank

Tue 21st February, 2012

A free market think tank has published a report arguing that plain packaging of tobacco will do nothing for public health and is "profoundly illiberal".

The Adam Smith Institute said the policy would set a dangerous precedent because plain packaging could then be extended to other products such as alcohol and fatty foods.

Christopher Snowdon, who wrote the report Plain Packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation, said: "It is extraordinary that a Government which claims to be against excessive regulation should be contemplating a law which even the provisional wing of the anti-smoking lobby considered unthinkable until very recently.

"Plain packaging is the most absurd, patronising and counter-productive policy yet advanced under the disingenuous pretext of 'public health'.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, said one in four deaths from cancer are due to smoking, saying: "Chris Snowdon misunderstands the case for plain packaging and is mistaken about the aim of the policy. The policy is not intended to reduce the smoking rate today. It's about stopping the next generation from taking up smoking. It will give millions of children one less reason to start.

"This report ignores the evidence that packaging is a vital part of marketing, as he could learn from tobacco industry documents."

Sources: Adam Smith InstitutePress Association/GuardianHands Off Our Packs (21 February 2012)

Download the report here

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