Press Release: Plain packaging vote marks illiberal new extension of nanny state

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Head of Communications, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207. Commenting on today's vote in favour of plain packaging in the House of Commons, Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman said:

Today's vote marks an illiberal new extension of the nanny state.

Plain packaging infringes on people’s freedom of expression, curbing the rights of adults to advertise and be advertised to. It seems likely that things like alcohol and fatty foods will be next, and plain packaging is probably a step towards a complete ban on smoking in public.

Even the public health lobby must admit that freedom of expression should only be curbed in extreme circumstances, but plain packaging does not work on its own terms. After its introduction in Australia, household expenditures on tobacco rose, and illicit tobacco seizures rose by 60 percent. The tobacco industry opposes plain packaging because it shifts smokers to cheaper brands, not because it deters them from smoking overall.

The public health lobby simply does not care about people’s freedom to smoke or drink or eat fatty foods. Freedom of expression is being thrown under the bus in the name of ‘public health’. Anyone who values their personal freedoms, whether they are smokers or not, should oppose plain packaging.

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