I recently mentioned a study that is being cited as evidence to support the case for the plain packaging of cigarettes. It suggested, to no one's great surprise, that some people could still recognise low tar cigarettes from the colour of the packs.
The study was warmly welcomed by ASH, who have been lobbying for the plain packaging policy for some time. In September 2008, ASH's Chief Executive Deborah Arnott described plain packaging as "an idea whose time has come". In March this year, she said: "the ultimate challenge is to get rid of tobacco advertising completely by requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging"
Martin Dockrell, ASH's campaigns manager, is also a long-time fan of this idea. He was advocating it in July of last year and was promoting it again in February this year, saying:
"The health community is only beginning to understand what tobacco manufacturers have known for decades: the package matters more than the product, especially when you are pitching to children."
No wonder, then, that ASH were so quick to endorse the new study. Deborah Arnott was quoted by various news sources, including the BBC, saying:
"This research shows that the only sure way of putting an end to this misleading marketing is to require all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging," said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, an anti-smoking group."That would remove false beliefs about different brands and communicate the message that all cigarettes are dangerous."This matter has been discussed by parliament and there is now a perfect opportunity to include a requirement for plain packaging of tobacco products to be included in the health bill."
ASH's Deborah Arnott and Martin Dockrell clearly have much to thank the authors of the new study for. So who are they? Step forward...er...Deborah Arnott and Martin Dockrell.
No one in the media saw fit to mention that the person welcoming the report (Arnott) also happened to be one of its authors. Nor did they mention that she is the Chief Executive of one of the organisations that paid for it:
Surely, it is in the public interest to mention these little facts?