Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Today was "No-Smoking Day", or some such similar stupid name. So before I start, let me make it clear that I'm a non-smoker, but even so I felt tempted to go and buy a packet just to show my contempt for all those who oppose activities which a very large number of people find perfectly acceptable.
The latest bright idea from the government is ban the display of cigarettes in shops in the naive belief that if people don't see them they won't be encouraged to buy them. They obviously have no idea as to human nature, ever since Adam and Eve, the attraction has always been for the forbidden fruit. They obviously didn't live through wartime rationing, when my mother's first question in the butchers and the grocers was "What have you got hidden away today?" (Certain items weren't rationed, but in short supply). If there was anything, there was a tendency to buy it whether it was actually needed or not, a sort of gamesmanship.
I suspect that it will be the same with cigarettes, the fact that they are "hidden goods" will add to their attraction, particularly with the youngsters. For years all governments have tried to stop illegal drug taking, and the result is that it is, in fact, increasing. I envisage that exactly the same will happen with tobacco, "it's discouraged, so there must be something going for it". Even more worrying is that fact that rather than smoking, many potential, or existing smokers might turn to drugs as being an easy option.
Even more crazy to my mind, is that they want to ban "branding", presumably all cigarettes will come in a plain packet. Are we going to have just one make, with all makers using an identical package, just like (for those that remember) the Pool Petrol that was available during the war?
To date, the cigarette companies have generally appeased the governments, "voluntarily" agreeing to such impositions as health warnings on the packet, but I suspect this could be the last straw and that it will be actively opposed.
I envisage a long series of law suits covering everything from restraint of trade, competition issues, loss of profits, human rights, judicial reviews and anything else lawyers can think of.
From the tobacco companies' point of view, whichever way the eventual judgement goes, they'll be no worse off than if they did nothing and the actions will be very good value for money in terms of the publicity, possibly going on for years as they fight them all the way to the EU courts.
Unfortunately, it's going to cost the taxpayer a fortune, otherwise I'd enjoy just sitting back and watching the fun!

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