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Monday, 29 October 2012

What the Real Experts Say About Plain Packs

We all know that anything that tobacco industry says is treated with great suspicion by Public Health activists and governments the world over. Big Tobacco is considered a "pariah industry" these days and so anything they say will be roundly ignored regardless of evidence or whether it's true. Anybody who speaks out against the True Believers in Public Health are denigrated as somehow being aligned with big tobacco and advocating that every last person on the planet should get cancer and die.  It's not remotely true, but Public Health activists will decry it at every opportunity nevertheless.

When it comes to plain packaging of tobacco products, of course tobacco companies are going to be against it. What company, anywhere in the world, would not be against government forcing them to put their products in plain packaging?  I cannot think of any.  Because, all things being equal, every company wants to package their products in the manner of their choosing.  That's what anyone would expect in a free society.  But of course we no longer live in a free society -- we live in an era where admitted socialists, communists, and religiously-motivated prohibitionist nutjobs* have taken over what used to be Public Health and turned it into a relentless, propaganda-filled hate campaign against smokers, drinkers and, more recently, chubby people.

*(Look, I don't care what you believe. Believe in anything you like. Just don't tell me what I should believe, nor tell me how to live my life.)

Anyway, tobacco companies will not be listened to any longer. But what about other businesses who don't sell tobacco?  Are their opinions on plain packaging worthy of being considered?

In February 2012, the European Carton Manufacturers Association (ECMA) had a meeting with the European Directorate responsible for health, particularly tobacco control.  You won't find any press releases about it anywhere. You won't find any mention of this in newspapers or on the 10 o'clock news.  You would never know about it unless you read the minutes of the meeting, which you would also never know existed. And isn't it truly a sad state of the world in which we live where some average blogger like me, who is no different from any of you and is not a "journalist" is the one to locate and point this stuff out to you?

So I'm going to give you the full minutes of that meeting.  You should read the entire thing.  These guys... they make packaging for a living. They know what they're talking about.  They don't just supply the tobacco industry -- they supply every known industry in the EC and outside of it.  These people know packaging.  So what do they say?

Have a look at this document and see:

[Update -- I have edited this article and removed the embedded PDF that was inserted here, due to a weird glitch which forced web browsers to jump to and display this location upon loading the page.]

Here are some choice excerpts -- and mind you, this is not the tobacco industry -- these are the people who really know the importance and value of packaging for every industry (emphases added throughout):
ECMA stated that it supported EU’s health objectives. However, ECMA believes that the possible introduction of plain packaging – whilst being well intended – would lead to serious negative consequences in form of increased counterfeits. In this respect reference was made to
• lower entry barriers for counterfeit production ("production equipment required for plain packaging is simple and therefore can be sourced as second hand equipment with costs only up to €1 million compared to new equipment for current complex designs with graphical health warnings that costs more than €10 million per production line"),

an increased scale for the counterfeit markets (the packages are all alike) and

the limited capability for consumers to identify counterfeits.

Increased counterfeit would lead to greater health risks (counterfeited products are unregulated) and tax losses (already today, according to EU figures, Member States lose €10 billion annually in tax revenues due to counterfeit and contraband). ECMA also claimed that it was far from certain whether plain packages would lead to better health outcomes, in particular reduction in prevalence and consumption.

ECMA explained that the only way of fighting counterfeiting effectively is allowing a variety of designs which are complex and frequently changed. Currently, there are increasingly frequent changes made to the design of cigarette packages by the cigarette manufacturers independent of legislative requirements. The life span of a design / pack shape could be as little as three to six months.

After the introduction of graphical health warnings in some of the EU Member States, ECMA members have made substantial investment in printing technologies used for cigarette packs in order to combine the existing complex design features with the newly required graphical health warnings. If plain packaging was to be introduced, much of this specialized equipment would become obsolete as plain packaging eliminates all complex design features and hence can be produced with less sophisticated equipment and at lower cost. This is what would drive the risk of counterfeiting.

So there you go. That's the experts on packaging.  And lest you think they are aligned with the tobacco industry, do note that tobacco companies comprise a mere 10% of their business.  They could lose that 10% and it would hurt, but they would easily get by with the remaining 90%.  So in no way can we say that ECMA are tobacco company stooges -- yet we know the Public Health zealots will say exactly that.

But we are not done yet.  Keep reading the minutes and other interested parties jump in.  Meet the paper industry, Deutsche Benkert (emphases added throughout):
Deutsche Benkert agreed with the statements of ECMA that plain packaging leads to increased counterfeits, which would not only be detrimental for the package industry, but also for the paper industry (jobs would probably shift to illicit producers in Asia).

Counterfeiters do not adhere to any regulation such as low ignition propensity legislation when it comes to the production of a cigarette either. Deutsche Benkert alluded to corresponding research projects which revealed that missing regulations and supervision can lead to a harmful contaminations, such as lead contents, rat and bird droppings etc. in counterfeited products. As a consequence, this might represent an additional health risk to regular smokers and possibly commencing smokers.

And there's even more at risk here!  You should really consider reading the whole thing.

Plain packaging makes no sense at all, not just to consumers and the tobacco industry, but to all industries throughout the world.  The activists in the Public Health religion know all of these facts already, yet they want to destroy not only the tobacco industry and smokers' lives, but industries who make packaging and supply paper products. In their quest for the eradication of smokers, they will hurt any industry that gets in their way.

We need to stop the Public Health movement from ruining our already dismal economy throughout Britain and the EU. Public Health wants a new world order of control, so destroying capitalism suits them just fine.

Spread the word, please.