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Pack campaigners delighted—for a while

| July 15, 2013

Campaigners in the U.K. who opposed the introduction of standardized tobacco packaging are celebrating following the government’s announcement that it has abandoned—for the time being—moves to introduce such packaging.

“We are delighted,” said Hands Off Our Packs campaigner Angela Harbutt. “The government conducted a public consultation on plain packaging in 2012 and half a million people opposed the measure.

“Ministers have listened to ordinary people. This is good news for those who believe in consumer freedom and are opposed to excessive regulation.

“It is vital that the government now represents the opinion of the British public at European Union level, where unelected bureaucrats are recommending a series of measures that will severely restrict consumer choice on tobacco.”

The Hands Off Our Packs campaign is owned and managed by Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco). Forest is supported by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Ltd. and Gallaher Ltd. (a member of the Japan Tobacco Group of Companies).

But while Harbutt was celebrating, she still found time to criticize the use of taxpayers’ money to support anti-tobacco campaigns. “We faced a vast state-funded campaign in favor of restricting branding on cigarette packaging, but hundreds of thousands of consumers fought back,” she said.

“Taxpayer-funded groups claiming to represent the public have no genuine support base and are wholly reliant on government grants.

“We are pleased that their hysterical and self-serving demands have in this instance been rejected.”

Forest said that, according to the government’s summary report of the public consultation, 665,989 campaign responses were received from 24 separate campaigns. Around two-thirds of campaign responses received were from people who were opposed to the introduction of standardized packaging (a total of 427,888 responses) and one-third of campaign responses received were from people who supported standardized packaging (238,101 responses).

“We’ve done the maths and including what the Government calls ‘detailed’ responses (2,424 in total), 64 percent of respondents are opposed to plain packaging,” Forest said in a press note. “Of course our opponents are trying to ignore the public response (odd, since it was a public consultation) and are focusing on the fact that 53 percent of the ‘detailed’ responses support plain packaging.
“Actually, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement for standardized packaging, especially when a quick glance at the report reveals the large number of state sector organizations that submitted a ‘detailed’ response.”

The report is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/standardised-packaging-of-tobacco-products.

Category: Breaking News

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