The ‘Plain Packaging’ Scandal

So the Health Department Tobacco Controllers have managed to get their PP regulations under way. I have no doubt that they will get their way. It has happened too often in the past few years.

Aren’t politicians a pain in the arse? You elect them to protect you from malfeasance by Big Government (Departments) and they turn into the very oppressors that you elected them to confront.  In this case, it is not MPs in general that I am talking about. It is Cabinet Ministers. The Health Minister, Ellison (?) announced that the Government (does that include the Cabinet?) was ‘minded to’ prepare legislation for PP and that it was ‘minded to’ hold a short consultation. What is the point of a new, ‘short’ consultation when a ‘full’ consultation has already taken place? What if the results of the new consultation contradict the previous one? Tobacco Control already knew what was going to happen and when. Suppose that they have already organised their ‘troops’ all over the world to submit similar demands for the introduction of PP? The consultation closes on 7th August, which is only about seven weeks away. Little time for opposition to get organised as compared with the time that support has had. The trickery really is scandalous. Remember the exemptions from the Smoking Ban, which were dropped at the third reading of the Health Bill, far too late for publicans, for example, to raise support against it? There is a real stench about the whole thing which I can smell 200 miles away from London. Why is it that The Cabinet are oblivious to the stench of rotting democracy? Do they wear surgical masks? It is scandalous.

It is also scandalous how this legislation was pushed through (the legislation allowing the Cabinet to introduce PP regulations). It was tacked onto the Families and Children Bill. What real discussions took place about the ramifications? I read hansard and there was very little as far as I could see. Most of the speeches were emotional blatherings about ‘the children’, but I do not recall any discussion at all about the psychological effects upon ‘real’ children who might see the obscene pictures on their parents cigarette packets.

What might happen? Imagine yourself as a 7 year old. You see a nasty looking, photo-shopped, picture on daddy’s/mummy’s cig packet. You ask, “What’s this picture about, daddy? It shows somebody’s mouth with the teeth all rotten”

There are various scenarios:

1. Dad snatches the packet away and say, “You’re too young to understand. Don’t look at my cig packets again!!”

2. Dad says, “Well, that is what happens if you smoke cigarettes”

Children are much smarter than is realised. You, the child, will look at your dad’s teeth and see that there is nothing wrong with them. But he smokes. So dad must be telling lies. DAD IS A LIAR! You are confused. There must be some other reason for the pictures.

3. Dad says, “That picture is there because the Government says that it has to be. It is supposed to describe what happens if you smoke. Look at my teeth. Is there anything wrong with them? It is a lie. Don’t believe it. There are some very nasty people in the Government”

Some variant of the above is very likely.

But let’s move on a few years. You are now 13. Because your parents don’t smoke you have little awareness of cigarettes. But, at school one day, one of your friends pulls out a packet of cigs (which is itself unlikely, since the EU has already passed legislation banning packets of 10 cigs – your friend is much more likely to take a single cig out of his lunch box). On the packet is a gruesome picture. You say, “Let me look”. You look and go ‘urgh!’ And then you both laugh. And then you have you’re first puff of a cigarette.

In no scenario that I can think of does a youth say, “OMG! That might happen to me if I smoke! I shall never ever touch a cigarette again, never mind light one and puff on it”

—–

Something else has often come into my mind (but has been promptly forgotten again). I have never seen any studies investigating why tobacco smoking prevalence has fallen over the decades. The TCI has claimed that it is because of their efforts, but no study has shown whether or not that is true.  My memories tell me that there has always been a neurotic, puritanical, eugenicist (viz. American anti-tobacco comics of the 1950s, featuring a nasty character called Nick O’Tine) streak running through ‘public authority’ for as long as I can remember. None of it affected me when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Oddly enough, I vaguely remember being influenced by ‘health warnings’ about thirty years ago, but that was before the Zealots got going. When the Zealots got going, I investigated and discovered the lies and exaggerations. Thus, while I was influenced by ‘health warnings’ when they were vague and generalised, I ceased to be influenced when the became ‘in your face’ and specific. The more horrific the warnings become, the less effect they have. Weird, perhaps. But not so weird when you think of the psychology. See this:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/

The article in the Boston Globe describes how the human mind can dismiss ‘true facts’ which conflict with its preconceived beliefs. Indeed, ‘true facts’ can reinforce its (wrong) preconceived beliefs. Fascinating. But this argument can be reversed. The effect of gruesome pictures might well reinforce the preconceived belief there is nothing wrong with smoking. Thus, everything depends upon the ‘preconceived belief’. Thus, a youth who believes, from his experiences, that smoking is rather harmless, will have that belief reinforced by PP.

The studies that revealed this ‘blip’ in human psychology are pretty old. The Tobacco Control Zealots must know about them. Therefore, their demands for PP must have some other purpose. What could that be? It seems to me that the Zealots want to create a ‘level playing field’ which is so level that no competition is possible, in which case, all the tobacco companies might as well combine and become one, in which case, the Tobacco Industry can be bombed into extinction.

Well, yes, I suppose, but what generally happens when a bomb explodes is that it blows everything to bits. Thus, when the tobacco industry has become one entity, blowing it to bits will produce lots and lots of small entities. If smoking was banned, then these bits would be ‘criminal’ bits, but they would be no more criminal than is dropping a filter tip in the street.

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The SCANDAL of the imposition of PP is the way in which it will be introduced (it WILL be introduced). No real discussion in parliament has taken place. No real consideration of the effects has taken place, other on blogs like this.

One might reasonably ask why that is so. Frankly, I find the reason very depressing. The reason is that today’s politicians are just as terrified of being accused of ‘harming children’ as were Hitler’s opponents.

It is a strange idea that politicians are mostly motivated by their own terror. The Tobacco Control Industry is a Terrorist Industry. The difference between the Tobacco Control in Iraq and Tobacco Control in England is merely a matter of how to enforce it. In Iraq, it is be chopping off hands and feet; in England, it is a matter of fines and imprisonment.

——

I truly hope that this ‘consultation’ is just a delaying tactic. with the intent of delaying such regulations until it is too late in this parliament.

I have yet to read the actual proposals. I shall do that tomorrow. It should be interesting.

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11 Responses to “The ‘Plain Packaging’ Scandal”

  1. moss Says:

    Junican, for some reason or other there is always a connection between something that you write, and something that has happened to me in the past.
    Upon the issue of plain packaging: As most of us started off with smoking tea leaves, either used or fresh, does this mean that tea, loose or bagged ,will from now on be sold in plain packaging as well?
    I’m joking of course, but at the same time it reveals how little research the zealots really do, and how little they know about early smoking. I am the only smoker out of a family of seven. What influenced me, was the films being shown at the time – mainly westerns. Kids today are watching the same films being repeated time and time again. How many other kids are going to be influenced by the same attraction?

    • junican Says:

      My memories, as a child, of the influence of cowboy films was that we kids made ourselves toy holsters and toy six-shooters, stuck chicken feathers in a headband and ran around, hiding in bushes and ‘shooting’ one another.
      I can’t remember anything specific that started me smoking. As best I can recall, at about 16, I smoked very little indeed. I had very little money. It was just the odd one now and again. I only really started to smoke after I started earning. Even then, it wasn’t very much – far too busy buzzing about doing things.
      About films, herself likes watching crime dramas on ITV 3. Those dramas are stuffed with people smoking. Even today, ITV especially features smoking quite a lot. I’m certain that they do it on purpose to cock a snoot at the Zealots.

  2. Rose Says:

    I am reminded of a brand of bubble gum that could be bought from the tuck shop next to the school.
    The makers had decided to put the most horrible and disgusting pictures of monsters on cards inside the wrapper.

    I couldn’t bear to look and certainly didn’t buy, but those cards were all over the school.

  3. The Blocked Dwarf (whose teeth do infact resemble the packet pic) Says:

    Part of my Childhood too…EVIL NICK O’TEEN

    http://www.comicvine.com/nick-oteen/4005-67121/

    …no doubt banned for offending the Irish Community?

    On another note, my 4 year old Granddaughter is fascinated by my black teeth! Infact I’m known as ‘Opi Schwarzzahn’ (Granddad Blacktooth). I have explained to her that if she spends a lot of money and works at it very hard then she too can have teeth like mine when she’s a BIG girl.

  4. The Blocked Dwarf (whose teeth do infact resemble the packet pic) Says:

    • junican Says:

      A awful lot of violence in that clip! I wonder when the propagandists realised that they were making Evil Nick into something of a hero? What kid could resist trying a fag to see what was wrong with them?

  5. vapingpoint Says:

    Nice post! I was under the impression that all the talking about PP and smoking in cars carrying children was done already in the Lords who passed it. That means it can be introduced at any time in the future without discussion. I think it’s called “Democracy”? I think PP is a crime against the people infecting their minds with self fulfilling nocebos. Shame on them!

    • junican Says:

      The Zealots introduced an amendment to the Children and Families Bill in the Lords. There was not a thorough examination, but the amendment (giving the Gov permission to introduce such regulations) was passed with a small majority. When the Bill went back to the Commons, it was passed with a big majority, but, again, without much discussion.
      It seems that when the Gov said that it was ‘minded to’ introduce such regulations, it was a political statement to deflect Labour accusations. If that was the case, then all this consultation stuff is just going through the motions (doing what the Gov promised to do). There is no doubt that the Zealots are desperate to get PP in this parliament. Note that nothing has been said about the cars thing. What will actually happen is in the lap of the Gods. For example, if PP goes through, will the Conservative lose more votes to UKIP? Votes that they really need to hang on to?

      • Rose Says:

        For example, if PP goes through, will the Conservative lose more votes to UKIP? Votes that they really need to hang on to?

        They will leave it for Labour all signed and sealed and wrapped up in ribbon just as Labour left the Display Ban for them.

      • junican Says:

        That is certainly quite possible Rose. I wonder if the Conservatives will have done or be intent of doing one of their focus group sessions to assess the danger of lost votes? They may have worked out that Labour will lose more votes than them! Amazing, isn’t it, that a proposal with all sorts of future connotations can depend upon political jiggery-pokery.

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