The director general of a leading UK think-tank is backing a campaign opposing plain cigarette packaging and claims there is no evidence it will stop people smoking.
Speaking at the launch of the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, organised by smokers’ lobby group Forest, Mark Littlewood, director-general at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that banning the branding of cigarettes will reduce the number of children or adults taking up smoking.
“There’s speculation, there’s plenty of assertion, and there’s a lot of pop psychology, but there is no hard evidence.”
Chris Snowdon, author of a report about plain packaging published last week by the Adam Smith Institute, told guests: “Plain packaging is not a health measure in any meaningful sense. It does not seek to inform people, rather it seems to be aimed at inconveniencing retailers, stigmatising consumers and helping counterfeiters.
“It’s amazing that a government which purports to be against excessive regulation should even contemplate it.”
Hands Off Our Packs has been launched by the smokers’ group Forest and is supported by retailers, designers, publicans and consumers.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “There is nothing plain about plain packaging. The proposal represents the uglification of Britain and must be stopped.”
Hands Off Our Packs campaigner Angela Harbutt said: “Plain packaging is illiberal and there is a danger that it will create far more problems than it solves.”
Guests at this week’s launch event were given a preview of a forthcoming campaign video, Welcome to Nanny Town. It features contributions from a shop owner, publican, lorry driver, recording engineer and youth support worker who share Forest’s opposition to plain packaging.
Welcome to Nanny Town will be launched online next week.