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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Plain Packs: A How To Demonise Smokers Guide

In June, at the 2012 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference (UKNSCC), Linda Bauld gave a presentation about the "evidence" of plain packaging.  Her presentation centred on the review that she and others in the tobacco control industry gave to the Department of Health in support of the plain packaging consultation here in the UK.

Lest I be accused of taking quotes of context, I would encourage you to listen to the entire presentation here and you can come to your own objective conclusions about it. There is also a low-resolution slide show that you can follow along with.  The audio portion of the presentation is roughly 18 minutes in length.

First of all, Bauld admits there is no real evidence of plain packaging working to reduce smoking uptake or quit rates because it's never been done before.  (Note: The Root of All Evil tweeted the same thing once.)  There are no controlled or before and after studies and the vast majority of studies are surveys, the quality of which are "variable."  That's comforting.

The tobacco control industry's surveys do indicate that plain packs will stigmatise current smokers. The idea here is to weaken and ultimately remove any brand identity a smoker might have, whilst fostering the notion that there are no differences in quality between various brands.  Because to the anti-smoking zealots, all cigarettes are exactly the same.

So if the hate campaign's goal is to demonise and stigmatise smokers further to force them to change their behaviour to the state-sanctioned variety, then they believe that plain packs will likely contribute to that end.  What does Linda Bauld say about this?
  • [Plain Packs] seen as having a less desirable smoker identity associated with them. The type of person that might use a plain pack might be older, less popular and less attractive, etc.
Translation: Let's make adult smokers unpopular and ugly by implementing plain packs.
  • They felt more embarrassed pulling out the plain packs.
Translation: Let's make our ugly and unpopular smokers feel even more like outcasts in society and amongst their peers and friends.

So, I suppose that's the tobacco control industry's plan and theory: Attack and remove consumer choice to force behavioural change to the nanny state's idealised groupthink model of perfect health and living forever by denormalising human beings, all before tobacco controllers implement outright prohibition of tobacco.