Press Release: Plain Packaging is gift to counterfeiters, nanny statists and prohibitionists

  • Plain packaging will encourage cigarette counterfeiting and smuggling
  • Government's position totally disregards individual liberty & smokers’ rights
  • Plain packaging is a dangerous step towards complete ban on tobacco

Commenting on the government's announcement that it will move to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, the Adam Smith Institute's Research Director Sam Bowman said:

"The government is wrong to bring plain packaging back onto the agenda. Plain packaging will make counterfeiters’ jobs much easier, will infantilise adults, and is a dangerous step towards a complete ban on tobacco.

"Since Australia introduced plain packaging, smoking rates have not changed, but the proportion of illicit cigarettes had increased substantially. So-called “illicit whites” now account for more than half of illegal sales and about 7.5% of all sales in Australia. The wide availability of illicit whites, in part due to Australia’s plain packaging rules, means adolescents now likely have greater access to cigarettes than previously—and at lower prices.

"Furthermore, plain packaging is a deeply illiberal policy that infringes our right to Freedom of Speech. It clearly infringes on tobacco firms’ freedom of expression, but the freedom for adults to have free exchanges of ideas with each other. In short, a restriction of my freedom to speak, like plain packaging, also affects my freedom to listen and consider what you have to say.

"Smokers enjoy smoking (and actually overestimate the risk of lung cancer), so if moves to curb smoking are successful they will probably make society less happy overall.

"Perhaps most worryingly, plain packaging would be a major step towards a complete ban on tobacco. Prominent public health lobbyists are now calling for a total ban on cigarettes. Plain packaging is a massive step towards the denormalization of smoking that those prohibitionists crave to make their crazy dreams a reality.

"The government’s announcement today marks a dangerous, illiberal new extension of the nanny state. Nobody who values individual liberty can allow it to be thrown away in the name of ‘public health’."

For further comment or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at / 07584 778 207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.