In a rather interesting turn of events, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will actively support the implementation of a new bill which, if enacted, would require that all cigarette boxes sold within the United Kingdom to display “generic imagery” cigarette label and text warnings concerning the dangers of smoking. The manufacturer’s brand, as well as the type of cigarette itself, would solely appear as plain text on the box itself.
Those in support of this proposed policy argue that a more universal and less visually appealing approach to cigarette label design will likely deter consumers, specifically younger individuals, from purchasing these products. Given the fact that a number of studies have pointed to the increased likelihood of cigarette addiction during teenage years, it seems reasonable to assume that supporters of the legislation have based their rationale within well-founded precepts.
Campaign strategists have argued that Cameron’s sudden support for this legislation is less about awareness for public health and more an attempt to blindside the Labour Party and ensure that they are robbed of a platform on which they could successfully campaign.
Brilliant political ploy aside, Cameron has, perhaps unexpectedly, succeeded in alienating a substantial portion of his political base which some experts have gone so far as to label an internal party revolt. According to a recent survey by the Telegraph, nearly 100 Tory MP’s, or approximately 1/3rd of the party, have now stated that they would directly oppose this measure.
Critics of the proposal argue that these measures are simply the next evolution of government intervention within an industry that has already received an inordinate amount of unfavorable discrimination. Additionally, the point has also been raised that generic labelling will dramatically increase the likelihood of counterfeit cigarette production, which could result in exponentially more adverse health-related side effects than the original product, largely due to a lack of quality control.
Some have also predicted that this move could lead to a lawsuit filed on behalf of tobacco companies due to the loss of intellectual property that would occur due to their desired branding being removed from packaging. Although there is no finite reporting regarding the exact ‘consequences’ of such legislation, it is reasonable to assume that, were this bill to be passed, serious economic consequences may follow for the United Kingdom at large.