In yet another skirmish in the war against smokers, Scotland has announced that it will be introducing Soviet style plain packaging for cigarettes in 2014/2015.

They will be the second country to do so, following Australia, who enacted plain packaging in December 2012.

Michael Matheson, Scotland’s public health minister, was keen to acknowledge Australia s influence on his decision making. He said “I am very encouraged by the early findings coming out of Australia following the implementation of plain packaging there”, adding “we will, of course, continue to take account of any new evidence emerging from Australia as we move toward a consultation on the next steps in Scotland in the New Year.”

However, Mr Matheson is conveniently ignoring the latest facts on plain packaging to emerge from Australia. The accountancy firm KPMG LLP released a report on 4 November, which highlighted how the Australian government has lost 1 billion Australian dollars in the 12 months ended in June, as a result of the vast jump in black market sales of cigarettes.

In Australia, illicit sales of cigarettes have increased from 1.5 per cent to 13.3 per cent of total shipments, while perhaps unsurprisingly, given the pseudoscience and speculation that have been used to justify plain packaging cigarette consumption has not dropped.

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According to KPMG, there was a rise of 154 per cent in sales of manufactured “illicit whites”, as counterfeit cigarettes or fake brands are known. One of these is called Manchester. It has a 1.4 per cent market share, which, when one considers that it is illegal, is an impressive feat.

Such evidence shows that plain packaging as a measure is not only ineffective at its intended purpose of reducing smoking, but that it has a negative impact on government revenue, and, perhaps more importantly, it violates consumer choice, and destroys brand recognition.

So, why has Mr Matheson not acknowledged this report in his claims today? After all, he has claimed that he will “continue to take account of any new evidence emerging from Australia”.

However, when one observes the whole picture, it soon becomes apparent. Currently, the Scottish government are orchestrating a campaign to stop tobacco being consumed by 2034, and they see plain packaging as a key aspect needed to kick start this project.

This objective is no secret. It is laid out in the Government s Tobacco Control Strategy, Creating a Tobacco Free Generation, which states “In setting out our aspirations for a tobacco free Scotland, we have decided for the first time to set a target date by which we expect to realise this ambition. This date is 2034. In setting this target, we have defined ‘tobacco free’ as a smoking prevalence among the adult population of 5 per cent or lower”. The document goes on “Our overriding aim in setting this target is to create a generation of Scots who do not want to smoke. A child born in 2013 will celebrate their 21st birthday in 2034. Creating a Scotland for that young adult, largely devoid of tobacco use with all the health, social and economic benefits that entails would be an achievement of which we could all be proud.”

Mr Matheson has acknowledged the role that plain packaging will have in realising this objective, stating “introducing plain packaging will make an important contribution to our efforts to reduce smoking prevalence and achieve our target of a tobacco free Scotland by 2034.”

Therefore, for him and his fellow antismoking activists, it is not of their concern whether plain packaging reduces cigarette consumption in the near future or not. Rather, it is another piece of legislation which will further stigmatise and punish smokers for their vice, and will thus they wrongly believe aid their efforts to create a generation of children who view tobacco with the same horror that others might view heroin.

Yet what Mr Matheson and bellicose campaigners fail to understand is that the generations they wish to protect from those nasty big tobacco companies will smoke, just as countless generations have done so before them. Indeed, it has always been the case that children smoke to appear mildly rebellious. Even George Orwell, arriving at Eton as a shy and young Eric Blair, took up the habit immediately on learning that it was strictly forbidden. Plastering packets with nasty imagery will do little to change this. And there is no scientific evidence to suggest otherwise.

That an elected official believes it is his right to foster his tastes and his preference onto the whole of Scottish society is sinister, ominous, and insulting, not only to smokers, but to all individuals in Scotland who have the ability to think for themselves. That Mr Matheson has done so in the face of such overwhelming evidence against plain packaging, is, quite frankly, sheer stupidity.

Why doctors are raising the alarm over e-cigarettes – the globe and mail

Bell discount cigarettes – bell, ca

Many physicians, however, do not welcome the trend. A Canadian Medical Journal editorial published this week warned that e cigarettes may be a slippery slope to tobacco addiction. A recent study in the journal The Lancet found that e cigarettes were comparable to nicotine patches in helping smokers quit cigarettes over six months. However, only a small per cent of patients in either group succeeded in quitting long term. The rest, despite using a free supply of e cigarettes, or nicotine patch, continued to smoke regular cigarettes at an average rate of half a pack a day.

But even as medical researchers and tobacco industry scientists debate their merits as a smoking cessation device, e cigarettes have become a hit among North American youth. The sale and marketing of e cigarettes is illegal in Canada, but aficionados say contraband products are easy to find. E cigarette users or vapers as they are known describe their new habit as a hip lifestyle choice.

How did e cigarettes become the Marlboros of our time?

Then and now

E cigarettes are the brainchild of Herbert A. Gilbert, who in 1963 patented a smokeless non tobacco cigarette designed to avoid the known health hazards of cigarette smoking by heating a nicotine solution into steam. Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist whose father died of lung cancer, perfected the device in 2003 using a more sophisticated heating element and a pressured jet of nicotine fluid to produce a visible, smoke like vapour. E cigarettes hit the U.S. market in 2006, but didn t really take off until about 2011.

How they work

E cigarettes include a mouthpiece and cartridge filled with fluid containing nicotine and ingredients such as glycerin and artificial flavouring. The cartridge is screwed onto an atomizer with a heating element to vaporize the liquid, a rechargeable battery and an LED light at the end that mimics the glow of a burning cigarette. Batteries are recharged using a USB port, or in a portable charging case shaped like a cigarette pack that can be twisted in a T shirt sleeve la James Dean.

Marketing madness?

E cigarette manufacturers promote their products as a cool alternative to smelly cigarettes. In one ad, actor Stephen Dorff praises e cigarettes because they can be smoked at a basketball game in a bar with your friends. E cigarette companies are using the same tactics to target youth TV ads, fruit flavours, celebrity endorsements, event sponsorships that have been banned for cigarette marketing, according to researchers Rachel Grana and Stanton Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco. Manufacturers are promoting the idea of vaping in smoke free environments to re establish social norms for nicotine addiction, the researchers wrote in a recent letter to the British Medical Journal These messages undermine existing smoke free laws and contribute to keeping people smoking cigarettes.

By the numbers


Percentage of U.S. high school students who said they had used an e cigarette in 2012 more than double the number in 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who said they had used e cigarettes within the past month who also smoked regular cigarettes. Many teens who start with e cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said.


Number of Facebook likes for , the largest of a growing number of online vaping communities devoted to topics such as instructions for DIY e juice (nicotine fluid).

$1.7 billion

Estimated sales in U.S. dollars of e cigarettes in 2013, according to a Wells Fargo analyst.

Star power

Celebrity vapers include actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Katherine Heigl and Sienna Miller, who took a hit from her e cigarette at the Golden Globes. The devices have become a fixture at Hollywood parties and on film sets, says Elaine Lui, etalk reporter and co host of CTV s The Social. Everyone smokes in Hollywood, she said. They do it to stay up, they do it to stay thin. Lui switched to e cigarettes nine months ago. In 25 years of smoking, this is the only thing that has kept me off cigarettes, she said. I feel so much better.

Pros and cons

Tobacco industry scientists argue that e cigarettes deliver lower amounts of nicotine than regular cigarettes, are less toxic and don t expose others to second hand smoke. A recent study from France s National Consumers Institute, however, concluded that e cigarettes are potentially carcinogenic because some brands contain levels of formaldehyde that approach those of conventional cigarettes. Research on the health risks and efficacy of e cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid is still in the early stages, said Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, deputy editor of the CMAJ. We should not assume they are safe simply because they appear to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes.