Alcohol, fatty foods could face similar plain-packaging laws as tobacco, but such policies do nothing for public health, claims U.K. think tank in new report as government considers plain packs for cigarettes

LOS ANGELES , February 20, 2012 () – Plain packaging laws could extend beyond tobacco to alcohol and fatty foods if the initiative to put cigarettes in plain packs is successful, according to a new report by a U.K. think tank, reported Packaging News on Feb. 20.

The report, entitled 'Plain packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation', was released as the government considers putting cigarettes in generic packs.

Such laws do not dissuade people from consuming the product that is plainly packaged, according to the Adam Smith Institute, which describes itself as the U.K.’s leading libertarian think tank, Packaging News reported.

Such policies set a dangerous precedent for packaging. For years, anti-tobacco groups have been applying the “blueprint” of anti-smoking laws to other products, according to the report.

Increasingly more common for certain types of foods and drinks are “sin taxes and advertising bans,” and there has been a call to place graphic warnings on bottles of alcoholic beverages, the institute stated, reported Packaging News.

“Plain packaging is the most absurd, patronizing and counter-productive policy yet advanced under the disingenuous pretext of ‘public health’,” said Christopher Snowdon, author of the report.

In Australia, which passed a plain packaging law in 2011, activists now want junk foods to be sold in generic packaging; and anti-smoking campaigners are saying the next step is to make cigarettes “foul-tasting,” the report states, Packaging News reported.

However, Sara Woolnough, director of tobacco control for U.K. Cancer Research, said the report fails to acknowledge the “vital” role that packaging plays in marketing.

“He could learn from tobacco industry documents,” she said. Smoking causes one in four cancer-linked deaths, said Woolnough.

The primary source of this article is Packaging News, London, England, on Feb. 20, 2012.

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