I have been doing a little light reading.
People tend to forget that Great Britain extends a little beyond England, Wales, Scotland and Norn Iron. The likes of the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man tend to be overlooked in the rush and people overlook the fact that each has its Legislature Assembly.
The Isle of Man Tynwald has been holding a "consultation" with a view to tightening its anti-tobacco laws.
I say a "consultation" but it appears to be the usual whip around between the usual suspects, though they have included businesses on their consultation list so either this was a mistake, or they are considerably more liberal than the countries that surround them. Apart from the odd brewery, the rest seem to be the usual suspects of "charities", vested interests and QANGOs.
The questions they pose have the standard yes/no/don't know options which nicely reflects the black and white mindset of governments everywhere. This allows for considerable leeway on the interpretation of the responses, which again is fairly typical.
For example they ask "Do you believe that there should be further restrictions on the advertising and promotion of tobacco and related products?". This is nicely vague and can mean anything from not having the word "tobacconist" on the front of the shop through to forcing the retailer to sell tobacco down in the basement behind steel doors, where no one can see the transaction.
The results of the consultation surprised me, I confess. I thought they would get the usual "overwhelming support", but in fact the answers seem remarkably honest. For example when it came to the "further controls" questions, they barely got a majority of 55% which would tend to indicate that people have become somewhat weary of the constant push for further legislation.
The question on plain packaging was interesting –
Do you believe that plain packaging of tobacco products (e.g. cigarettes and bagged tobacco) would help reduce the uptake of smoking by young people?
The response of No – 61.6% against Yes – 27.3% does seem to reflect the general public apathy to this notion. What is more remarkable is that this result came despite a declaration in their original documentation that –
"There is good evidence that tobacco advertisements and ‘cool, fun and attractive’ displays do influence young people to take up smoking, and studies have shown that impulse buying of tobacco products as a result of seeing a display remains high, especially amongst young people."
As an aside – I would love to see their "studies" on impulse buying, and surely "young people" can't impulse buy if they are underage?
Some of the questions give an insight into the probable future "salami slices" legislation that will come down the line – banning smoking in all private vehicles, and banning smoking in private homes.
No doubt the results of the "consultation" will have little or no impact on the final laws that are introduced. I get the impression that these procedures are in place merely to judge the level of backlash when the Draconian measures are introduced, and to give them a chance to spin their response in advance.
The full result makes interesting reading.