Dann on plain packaging

writes in NZ Herald:

For capitalism to work properly the companies that bring us wonderful shiny things such as smartphones, or services like insurance and banking, need to have security about the rules for doing business. Property rights and the security of intellectual property are crucial to provide a platform for a healthy, thriving economy.


British American’s New Zealand general manager, Steve Rush, says proposals create a “disturbing precedent” for other industries.

They don’t.

Here I disagree. Health officials overseas are already advocating plain packaging for other products such as fast food. It is naive to think otherwise.

But nothing, no free trade deal or international treaty will ever trump the right of a society to protect its young from harm.

I agree also.

We should include tobacco with the other legal highs being regulated out of existence by Peter Dunne’s new legislation. That legislation puts the onus on distributors of legal highs to prove their product is safe.

If someone invented tobacco today and applied to sell it, it would be declined. But we live in the real world where people have been smoking for hundreds of years, and no country in the world prohibits the supply of tobacco – mainly because such prohibition would not work.

On the one hand it claims that branding and design are of little significance with regard to making smoking more attractive. On the other hand it lobbies at huge cost to maintain those brands.

There is the old argument that packaging is all just inter-brand warfare – that the Marlboro red appeals to one kind of consumer and the Benson & Hedges gold to another. That sense of self-identification with a brand is important in advertising.

It might convince us to choose one kind of jeans over another. But it is the combined effect of all the stylish advertising from the apparel industry that keeps denim cool and hip for each new generation.

As there is little evidence that denim is more dangerous than, say, corduroy – other than in a fashion sense – it would be wrong for a government to get involved in regulating trouser advertising.

If there was clear evidence that denim was deadly, it would be wrong for it not to.

Here Dann misses the point. Look if there was proof that plain packaging reduces smoking rates, I’d have little issue with it. But there is zero proof.

Rather than make decisions to confiscate property rights on close to blind faith, why not do a trial? Have plain packaging in one area of NZ (maybe the SI) and over three years monitor the change in their smoking rates to the rest of NZ.

Shouldn’t decisions be based on science?

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