Thursday, 9 August 2012

235,000 voices of sanity

Finally, a bit of good news...

235,000 sign petition against plain tobacco packs

A petition against controversial plans for plain tobacco packaging signed by 235,000 people has today been handed to the Department of Health.

The petition, organised by the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, has been presented two days ahead of the deadline for responses to a public consultation on Friday.

This is a quite phenomenal result, particularly when you consider the government's expectations...

Based on past consultation exercises, we expect to receive around 100,000 responses to the consultation.

It is notoriously difficult to get people to put pen to paper in favour of the status quo, especially when you're dealing with a 'denormalised', minority habit such as smoking. It is therefore very encouraging to see that so many people have spoken out against this ridiculous scheme. This, remember, is in addition to opposition from the country's biggest trade union, nine out of ten police officers and members of Parliament.

It should go without saying that this massive petition does not guarantee success in post-democratic Britain. We know that the Department of Health is firmly behind the idea (why else would it spend millions of pounds campaigning for it?). We also know that the Department of Health are past masters when it comes to sexing up public consultations until they get the 'right' result. And we know that ASH, Smokefree South-West and all the other state-funded sock-puppets have been given the resources to gather many signatories themselves.

But even if the liberal side had no more than 235,000 supporters—and there will be many more on paper by the time the consultation is published—it will be a significant and irksome thorn in the prohibitionist's side. The government might start to ask itself, finally, why on earth it is pursuing this obscure policy. Where are the votes in it? And then perhaps we can see a return to some semblance of sanity and perspective from the mother of all parliaments.

9 comments:

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX The government might start to ask itself, finally, why on earth it is pursuing this obscure policy. Where are the votes in it? XX

The trouble I see there, is that very few people would change their voting habits over this.

Regardless what the dictatorship does, the same old faces will vote for the same old faces they have always voted for.

A "vote winner" is to under cut the other party by 0000.2% on income tax, and the public will roll over like the good whore it is, and spread its legs from here to christmas time.

THEN figure into that, WHICH party with a cats chance in Hel of ever coming NEAR a "win" does NOT support the ban?

Furor Teutonicus said...

A further thought to this.

You are talking about a population who have a rabid hankering for “the good old days”, when you could buy three eggs, or a half pound of biscuits, in a brown paper bag, moan constantly about “advertising”,“commercialisation”, and “packaging”.

Plain packaging is the answer to their dreams.

Basically, for them, it is NOT something worth considering changing their voting habit over.

Signing a petition is not, for them, a good enough reason to rock the boat, and change the (voting) habits of a life time, and that of generations of their families past.

Barman said...

I can't help but think that this will be spun as: -

Population of UK = 62,641,000
Votes against = 235,000

Ipso facto, 62,406,000 are for plain packs.

Lysistrata said...

"This is a quite phenomenal result, particularly when you consider the government's expectations...
Based on past consultation exercises, we expect to receive around 100,000 responses to the consultation."


I think we are muddling two things up here. The 235,000 refers to the signatures on the HOOP petition.
The 100,000 refers to the numbers who may (or may not) have bothered to respond online to the Gov't consultation, which was extended for a month until Friday 10 August.

Whatever, I agree the 235,000 is still a phenomenal result!

Ivan D said...

They will try Barman. They will also try the tobacco company stooges line but the facts are that the Plain Packs campaign is far higher profile, has been backed by the DoH,has used government money and has abused CRUK donations to try to push for a measure that is a vanity project for politically motivated activists. CRUKs role in this tawdry campaign is shameful but I suppose they crossed that particular line when they were involved in misleading parliament during their shop display ban campaign. How the mighty are fallen!

Snowdon said...

I should perhaps clarify, in reference to Lysistrata above, that this is not just a petition. This is a response to the consultation and so these 235,000 people have responded to the consultation.

Based on the display ban consultation, 100,000 was a reasonable estimate. It will clearly be a lot more than that now.

Junican said...

I have been wondering what's in it for the government taxation-wise, and I can think of nothing. I can see why TC might want it so that they can mess with the size of cigarette packets, and thus the size of the contents (eventually). What did occur to me was, "Is this likely to be a way around the EU trade laws? Could the government ban to introduction into this country of cigarette packets which do not conform to plain packaging laws?" At a stroke, ALL cross-border tobacco shopping would become illegal. Is that what is in it for the government?

Jonathan Bagley said...

I don't think EU law would allow the banning of EU tobacco from the UK. Millions of tourists arrive with cigarettes not in plain packets.

Ali said...

I saw in today's Observer an article saying that the Hands off Our Packs petition was "full of fake signatures" and that they advised the tobacco lobby of this a couple of times during the consultation.

I and quite a few of my friends signed the petition and I hope that the Government is not simply trying to use the media to avoid the incovenient truth that rather a lot of us don't want any more silly regulation.