YouGov are the pollsters of choice for ASH on whose board Kellner also happens to sit. He chaired the editorial board for ASH's 2008 'Beyond Smoking Kills' report, for which YouGov provided survey data (which, by the way, found that plain packaging was the least popular of the twelve proposals put forward) and he is in the habit of writing open letters to politicians calling for neo-prohibitionist legislation.
Today, he has sent an e-mail from his YouGov account making a final plea for plain packaging (a shorter version of which is published at the Huffington Post). He gives four lame reasons why ministers should embrace 'standardised packaging', starting with the claim that "it would be popular" based on a YouGov poll—tellingly, he does not mention the public consultation.
Reason number two is that it "would be cheap"—questionable, but so what anyway? I can think of dozens of stupid laws that would be cheap.
Reason number three is that "there is a real prospect that, over time and in conjunction with other reforms, fewer teenagers would take up smoking"—faint praise indeed; even a trustee of ASH can't bring himself to go beyond vague aspirations and even these require "other reforms" to go alongside it.
Reason number four is that "this is the least disruptive" of the recent neo-prohibitionist policies because, for example, "it does not force smokers to change their habits in pubs or office"—again this is questionable, but even if it were true it would be irrelevant.
Kellner then gives what he mischievously calls the case against the legislation, namely:
1. The tobacco industry doesn’t like it.
And that’s about it.
How very droll. Except that there is a host of reasons given by politicians, policeman, libertarians, customs officers, brand experts, packaging companies and intellectual property lawyers which Kellner neglects to mention. The irony is that "the tobacco industry doesn't like it" is actually the number one reason why the tobacco control lobby wants to introduce plain packs. The policy passes what these puerile idiots call "the scream test"—ie. if the industry protests, it must be worth doing. They know—and occasionally admit—that the industry's real concern is that they will sell fewer premium brands, not that they will sell fewer cigarettes in general, but annoying the industry is more important to them than reducing the smoking rate.
Kellner is obviously entitled to his opinion, but there is something rather undignified about the president of a polling organisation making a last ditch effort to rally the troops. I thought that in Brighton in 2009 and I think it still.