One obvious question is never asked - does this strategy of hyper-regulation and ‘denormalisation’ actually work? By one measure, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. In 2006, the anti-smoking movement created a ‘Tobacco Control Scorecard’, a hit parade which Britain and Ireland have consistently topped thanks to uncompromising smoking bans, sky-high tobacco taxes and retail-display bans. Plain packaging should help the UK maintain the top spot next time the list is compiled.
Trebles all round, then? Not quite. After declining steadily for years, Britain’s smoking rate has been flatlining since 2007, while Ireland’s eye-wateringly high cigarette prices have made the Emerald Isle the capital of black-market tobacco in Western Europe. If stigmatising smokers and annoying the tobacco industry is the aim of tobacco control, our two countries reign supreme, but if the goal is to improve public health we should take a lesson from the country that comes a mediocre ninth on the scorecard: Sweden.
Please do read the whole thing. There are also some very fine articles from Rob Lyons (on Jamie Oliver) and Patrick Basham (on plain packaging).