Ministers are to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes along the Australian model with legislation this year, after becoming convinced that the branding is a key factor in why young people start to smoke.
The legislation, to be announced in the Queen's speech in May, is also expected to ban smoking in cars carrying anyone aged under 16 years.
Why merely infringe on intellectual property rights when you can infringe on actual property rights as well, huh? What was it that David Cameron said in 2008?
"The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end."
What a comedian. Sadly, the laugh's on us.
The Guardian quotes a "senior Whitehall source"....
"We are going to follow what they have done in Australia. The evidence suggests it is going to deter young smokers. There is going to be legislation," said a senior Whitehall source said.
We should remember that this is only an anonymous leak and may well turn out to be untrue. There can be no doubt that there are senior figures in the Department of Health, such as Andrew Black, the 'Tobacco Programme Manager', who are committed to plain packaging regardless of the evidence and regardless of which elected politicians are in charge. The extraordinary sums of taxpayers' money that have been spent on the campaign are testament to that, as are the numerous incidents of skullduggery that have made a mockery of the public consultation.
It may be that one of the DoH's activists has put out this anonymous briefing to put pressure on the government to go ahead with the policy. Let us remember what Deborah Arnott said about the campaign for the smoking ban in 2006:
It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition.
On the other hand, if the government's decision has really been announced via an anonymous Department of Health leak, it will be a fitting end to a public consultation that has been characterised by secret meetings, dodgy dossiers and sock puppet lobbying. If plain packaging is introduced by a supposedly free market coalition despite 2 to 1 opposition in the consultation, it will rightly make people wonder whether what kind of democracy we live in.