“Plans for plain packaging of cigarettes are a charter for organised crime and a danger to our children”

So says Peter Sheridan is a former Assistant Chief Constable of Northern Ireland. In an article in the Daily Mail he concludes by saying:

“This well-meaning proposal, intended to make more of our young people safe and healthy, will actually make it easier for criminals to threaten the well-being of those closest to us.”

Also you can catch me and Mick Walker of Nothing-2-Declare were on BBC Radio Humberside this morning. The feature starts with the UKBA at 0.08.30 in and we are on from 0.23.19.


Here is the article on full.

“With over 30 years’ experience policing organised crime on the streets of Northern Ireland, I know how damaging the scourge of tobacco can be for every single community; every family.

I like to think I approach any issue with an open mind, and that of the Government’s consultation on plain packaging is no different, but right now in Northern Ireland one in every five packs of cigarettes is illegally sourced, and this money goes into the pockets of organised crime. It may sound far-fetched, but that is the truth. Put simply, my fear is that introducing plain packaging for cigarettes will make life easier for  criminals, while those policing our streets will have a much tougher time: instead of having 200 different designs of packs to copy there would be just one.

The problem is that all too often people with good intentions don’t stop to think about the wider impact their policies will have. In Germany, over the last 10 years, smoking rates in the young have plummeted from 27 per cent to just 11 per cent as a result of public education campaigns. By comparison, in Ireland, which has some of the toughest smoking regulations in Europe, the overall smoking rate has only dropped by 5 per cent over the same period.

The fact is, banning cigarette logos might actually make things worse. Plain packets could be a smugglers’ charter. I’ve spent most of my working life as a senior police officer in Northern Ireland, where organised crime gangs and terrorist organisations have turned smuggling knock-off fags, jewellery and clothing into a multi-million pound black market business, alongside their prostitution rings and drug running operations.

Because of the power of these gangs the supply chain for counterfeit cigarettes stretches across Europe and beyond. Millions of pounds each year are spent on law enforcement measures to counter their activities.

Despite this, it is a growth industry with damaging effects on society. Last September over £2 million of counterfeit tobacco heading for the UK market was seized in Dublin. Over 10 per cent of the cigarettes sold in the UK are now imported illegally, and across the border it’s even higher. A worrying amount of these are fakes rather than genuine cigarettes illegally imported.

It is conceivable that the introduction of plain packaging will make it more difficult for police to detect fake fags, which have been shown to contain all sorts of weird and unpleasant ingredients.

Many people have said smokers are naturally drawn to branded cigarettes, which is why logos should be banned. But plain packaging will create a bizarre situation – where branded cigarettes are the tobacco products of choice on the black market. If we hand the control of branded goods to criminal gangs, we could actually be aiding them in their illegal trade.

I know the taxman isn’t always popular, but without the money from cigarettes and tobacco – currently £12bn a year – taxes will have to rise or other government spending shrink. Smuggling of tobacco already costs the UK £3.1 billion every year: cash that could go towards schools, hospitals, creating new jobs or even the police.

I don’t want us to make a mistake that is one step away from banning cigarettes. As America saw when it banned alcohol nearly a hundred years ago – a policy known as “Prohibition”, it creates an environment where gangsters and lawlessness thrive, causing chaos for the honest majority – and it’s the police who end up having to clear up the mess.

Everyone knows teenagers try smoking because of peer pressure – it’s friends and the groups they mix in that leads them to start smoking, not cigarette logos. But if you take away logos and make fag packets more extreme, there is a real danger of making smoking even more attractive to impressionable young people wanting to stand up to authority and rebel.

We mustn’t rush into introducing plain packaging. This well-meaning proposal, intended to make more of our young people safe and healthy, will actually make it easier for criminals to threaten the well-being of those closest to us.

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5 Responses to “Plans for plain packaging of cigarettes are a charter for organised crime and a danger to our children”

  1. junican says:

    Interesting…………….I have left a comment at the Mail On Line article. Not a single word from the ‘stinkers’ (ASH ET AL). Keeping a low profile until after the consultation?

  2. The Free Corps says:

    Who will lose out from plain packaging ?
    The Government Exchequer
    The Western Tobacco Companies
    The British corner shops
    Hardly the vanguard of defending the rights of tobacco users
    If the International “Robin Hoods” wish to help the poor by hiiting the powerfull, be it
    in plain or pretty packets,who cares,all power to their elbows.
    The Polticians,the media,the chattering classes ,they have united to treat the smokers like
    criminals ,henceforth let us turn to the criminals for help us in our hour of need
    The puritans tore up the rule book,gave no quarter ,anything goes.

    The ends justify the means

  3. nisakiman says:

    “I know how damaging the scourge of tobacco can be…”

    Scourge of tobacco? What’s he been smoking?

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    Dave this is the first asthma study Ive seen the nazis produce in quite awhile:
    Strong evidence’ for causal link between parental smoking, childhood asthma
    Published on June 25, 2012 at 5:15 PM · No Comments
    inShare.2By Andrew Czyzewski

    Parental smoking is associated with symptoms of asthma in exposed children, report researchers who found the more parents smoked, the greater the risk to their children.

    Lead author Edwin Mitchell (The University of Auckland, New Zealand) and colleagues say that “the presence of a dose-response effect is strong evidence for a causal relationship.”

    The effect of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure on respiratory health has been of interest for many years.

    In 2006, the US Surgeon General concluded that: “the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure from parental smoking and the onset of wheeze illnesses in early childhood,” and “that the evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure from parental smoking and the onset of childhood asthma.”

    However, the data come predominantly from developed countries and the importance of the age of exposure is not well established.

    In the current study, Mitchell et al examined the association between maternal and paternal smoking and symptoms of asthma, eczema, and rhinoconjunctivitis in 58 countries.

    The parents or guardians of 220,407 children aged 6-7 years completed written questionnaires about their child’s allergy symptoms and their own smoking in the child’s first year of life.

    In addition, 350,654 adolescents aged 13-14 years self-completed the questionnaires on their symptoms and whether their parents currently smoked.

    Maternal and paternal smoking was associated with an increased risk for symptoms of asthma, eczema, and rhinoconjunctivitis in both age groups, although the magnitude of the odds ratio (OR) was higher for symptoms of asthma (OR=1.11-1.44) than the other outcomes (OR=1.04-1.20).

    Indeed, for asthma symptoms there was a clear dose relationship (1-9 cigarettes/day, OR=1.27; 10-19 cigarettes/day, OR=1.35; and ≥20 cigarettes/day, OR=1.56).

    Maternal smoking was associated with higher ORs than paternal smoking and maternal smoking in the child’s first year of life was associated with a greater risk for symptoms for all outcome categories than current maternal smoking.

    “This indicates that early exposure to ETS is especially important,” Mitchell and co-authors comment.

    The researchers also calculated population attributable risk (PAR) for the various exposures and prevalences of parental smoking.

    “If maternal smoking is causally related to asthma then it might account for 5-7% of asthma cases in the world,” they remark.

    The research is published in Thorax.

    Licensed from Medwire news with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Imagine 350,000 kids filling out a questionaire study……….think any coaching was in the questions per say!

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