Ah, plain and uniform packaging. That most banal of all the nanny-state’s myriad of legislation, and yet somehow, also its most perfidious. A sledgehammer taken to the smoking industry, but an unrelenting sledgehammer that brutalises all in its way and cannot be sated with just one victim, taking the branding industry, and many others besides, with it.
This month, it was rolled out across the UK and France, despite a distinct lack of evidence as to its effectiveness from previous Australian studies, on all tobacco products. And, the fear is, that now it has come for tobacco, the health lobby won’t stop; now they will go after other targets, having already alluded to their desire to trample over formula milk, sugar, and, of course, alcohol.
But folk aren’t taking this lying down. It was lost in the fog of the election – but the other day, the international group Students for Liberty, mindful of the sort of future we could be facing if packaging control is allowed to trundle on unchallenged, created a nightmarish vision of the future in London, setting up a shop in which any product that could potentially harm you (that is to say, everything) is uniformly bagged up in an unappealing plain pack.
The Nanny State Store could be found on Cheshire Street in London’s Shoreditch, selling everything from chocolate to crisps, and drinks to cigarettes.
‘It was our goal to start the Nanny State Store in London to mock the increasing level of lifestyle regulations being passed around by all levels of government,’ said Alex Christakou, the coordinator.
‘Students for Liberty has done this successfully around the world, and we wanted to bring the fight to the UK. The question we want to ask is: do we want a government that treats its adults like children, or do we want a society that respects an adult’s right to choose?’
It’s a question we at Popla fear the British public may have to face sooner rather than later. Let’s hope they don’t give in!