Thursday 27 January 2011

Stupid comment of the day (2)

Various alleged health groups have responded to the EU's Consultation on the Tobacco Products Directive. This gem comes from the section on plain-packaging.

It was stated that there is no evidence that plain packaging or any other possible measure would increase illicit trade.

Really?! There is no possible measure that would increase illicit trade? So smuggling and contraband is not affected by supply, demand, price or the ease with which it can be done? That's sounds a little, er, counter-intuitive.

There would probably rather be a decrease.

Sure. If you're going to make things up, you might as well go the full mile. But that is merely the aperitif. This is the good bit:

Generic packaging would make it harder to imitate another company's package as it could only be done by copying the brand name.

Just wonderful.


Anonymous said...

What does that last sentence mean? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it means something to them.

Carl V Phillips said...

I think your third quote might not be as absurd as it seems at first glance (though all three are quite funny). Though its juxtaposition with the bits about smuggling suggests poor communications skills on the part of the writer, I think it is probably a different point.

To try to salvage the author's poor writing, I am guessing that the intended claim is that if packages have no artwork on them, while that makes life trivial for counterfeiters, it makes it difficult for a legal merchant to send a signal like "this is our version of Marlboro Lights, try it" by using similar art (since they cannot communicate in most other ways). So a smoker looking for, say, an off-price brand that imitates MLs will have a hard time finding it. Since most of what these "alleged health groups" (nice!) want is to harm smokers,
and this would indeed harm smokers, I think they probably meant exactly what they said.

Christopher Snowdon said...


Quite plausible, although all three quotes come from the same paragraph. If you're right then it's nice of them to bear the concerns of the biggest tobacco companies in mind. Of course, with a tobacco display ban no one could compete on package design anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anon 15.47 again. I think that must be it Carl, although in the report it comes under the section heading, "illicit trade", not suggesting one company legally creating copy-cat packaging. Chris, I hope you don't have frequent reason to publish EU material. Our own civil service were at least able to complete the Times crossword, whatever else they got up to.

Anonymous said...

""It was stressed that counterfeit goods is not the only form of illicit trade. This has
to be acknowledged and kept in mind.""

That is the first sentence of the paragraph of which S's quotes are the remainder.

It seems to me to imply that S's quotes are indeed about counterfeiting specifically, but not excluding smuggling.

The last quote still makes no sense since I would have thought that counterfeiters would be counterfeiting a broad selection of popular brands. What does it matter to them if you have some specific personal brand in mind? The easier that it is to copy the package, the better.

In any case, it is hard to see how the packaging can have any effect at all on smuggling (all hail our heroes!).

Are they saying that there has been no increase in the smuggling of tobacco into Ireland in recent years? Of course, it is a bit difficult to get evidence of smuggling without catching the smugglers, isn't it?

Just more propaganda from the zealots.