The tobacco companies' arguments against plain packaging laws were (are?) so incoherent as to be laughable. Except for the fact that they expected (hoped?) that they would convince people.

For example:

"Generic packaging would make it harder to prevent smuggled and counterfeit products entering a market"
But the plain packaging (apart from the bits that are coloured pond scum green) contain very distinctive high colour photographs of the damage that smoking does to you. Are the smugglers and counterfeiters going to go to the effort to reproduce those photographs?

"Competition could drive down prices, and consumption levels could increase as smokers switch to cheaper and/or counterfeit cigarettes."
Umm: but if you are forced to drive down your prices, wouldn't the attraction of counterfeit cigarettes drop?

"No alcohol, confectionary or fast food company would allow the Government to take away their brand identity. Where do you draw the line?"
Umm: I don't know where you'd draw the line, but a good place to start would be any product that gets is highly addictive, has no safe level of consumption, causes serious health problems for those who haven't chosen to consume the product,  and causes lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cancer of the larynx, pancreatic cancer, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, susceptibility to infectious diseases, impotence, female infertility, brain shrinkage, etcetera. The slippery slope argument is no argument against doing something that is a good idea.

The final argument is a corker: "there is no proof that plain tobacco packaging will have any effect on smoking uptake". So these millions of dollars being spent by the tobacco companies are all intended to stop people shifting from Dunhill to cheaper brands? Give me a break!

The Liberal Party today announced that they would allow the plain packaging legislation to pass. Which is great news for common sense.

It's hard to credit that the tobacco companies thought they could run these internally contradictory arguments and succeed. Fortunately the media managed to run a moderately negative campaign based on the weight of sensible evidence and commentary.

But there are too many cases where the media and political discourse in this country let nonsensical scare campaigns succeed. We need to get better at pointing the finger at - and throwing scorn upon - nonsensical political campaigns.

Global Warming Denial and Direct Action on Climate Change: I'm especially looking at you.

Comments (0)
Anthony Holmes June 1st, 2011 07:26:25 PM