The 19th of May this year was a good day for individuals, children and families in this country and potentially around the world.
In a landmark ruling in the High Court, Mr Justice Green dismissed a legal challenge by the world’s four biggest tobacco manufacturers to stop the introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes in this country.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Green pointed out the weaknesses of the evidence put forward by the tobacco giants, and emphasised the damaging impact of tobacco marketing on both individuals and on our country:
“In the United Kingdom alone, 600 children every day are initiated into smoking. These are the future customers of the tobacco industry… [smoking generates] a vast financial burden for the state in terms of medical and care costs and it imposes, for those who succumb to tobacco-related illness, pain and suffering.”
This is a huge step forward. There seems to me little doubt that the tobacco companies themselves were convinced that branded packaging encourages more people to smoke, otherwise they wouldn’t have fought the ruling so vehemently. As one cigarette packet designer pointed out:
“A cigarette package is part of a smoker’s clothing, and when he saunters into a bar and plunks it down, he makes a statement about himself. When a user displays a badge product, this is witnessed by others, providing a living testimonial endorsement of the user on behalf of that brand and product.”
The UK now joins Australia and France in banning all branded packaging. Ireland, Hungary, Norway, Canada and New Zealand are set to follow.
Let’s hope the momentum will grow, and the tobacco companies and those who own and direct them will be increasingly exposed for the greed and indifference that compels them to keep producing and marketing their products, fully cognisant of the grief and suffering they bring.