The anti-smoking lobby has been offering advice to the House of Lords on how to regulate drinking. Draconian moves could follow
Back in August I warned that the anti-smoking lobby would not rest after its triumph in forcing through “plain packaging” on cigarettes.
I hadn’t expected to be proved right so quickly. The House of Lords has invited the so-called UK Centre For Tobacco and Alcohol Studies to present them with evidence.
This body informed peers that drinking should be subject to many of the same prohibitions as smoking.
It is demanding legislation to impose new restraints on marketing alcoholic drinks, an end to sponsorship of sport by drinks companies, and a blanket ban on representatives from the drinks industry attending meetings civil servants.
It is tempting to dismiss these demands as preposterous. This would be most unwise. The anti-smoking lobby has proved extremely effective in recent years – and its most recent success is the announcement of the closure of the JTI Gallaher plant in Northern Ireland, resulting in the loss of more than 800 jobs.
In a late-night adjournment debate last Monday, the local MP, Ian Paisley, blamed over-regulation for this, and condemned the plain packaging proposal. Almost all the MPs who spoke agreed, including a number of Tory backbenchers.
Never the less, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, seems determined to go ahead with his plain packaging plan, despite troubling evidence that it will simply lead to rise in the sale of illicit tobacco.
Meanwhile I remain puzzled that the UK Centre For Tobacco and Alcohol Studies continues to be treated with such respect.
This video of Gerard Hastings, the academic who is one of their main protagonists, suggests that he is also something of an anti-capitalist campaigner as well as a public health expert. Yet he is listened to with entranced respect by Parliament and the Department of Health.
Originally written By Peter Oborne