Friday, June 3, 2016

Canada Libertarians Say No to Nanny State on World No Tobacco Day

Activists Demonstrate Their Opposition to Plain Packaged Tobacco Products

David Clement
On World No Tobacco Day, SFL Program Associate David Clement handed out plain-packaged chocolate bars to workers on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Yael Ossowski)
Prompted by World Tobacco Day, members of the international grassroots activist group Students For Liberty took to Parliament Hill on Tuesday to hand out their “No Nanny” plain-packaged chocolate bars to legislators and federal employees.
Plain packaged chocolate bars handed out by Students For Liberty on World No Tobacco Day.
The chocolate bar labels warn that chocolate “severely raises the risk of obesity” and therefore it “may kill you.”



Program Associate at Students For Liberty David Clement was present in front of Canada’s federal parliament on Tuesday to hand out the chocolate bars in protest of the idea of the plain packaging of tobacco products, due to be introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration.
“The Trudeau government’s plan to force tobacco companies to use plain packaging on their products is a paternalistic, nanny-state policy that will fail to reduce smoking rates,” said Clement. “Three years’ worth of government evidence from Australia shows that plain packaging has not reduced smoking rates, the volume of tobacco consumed, or youth smoking.”
Even more, Clement says there may even be evidence that smoking rates went up as a result of plain packaging in Australia.
The World Health Organization, which sponsors World No Tobacco Day each year, says citizens should “get ready for plain packaging” in its news release on Tuesday.
“Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in a press release. “It restricts tobacco advertising and promotion. It limits misleading packaging and labeling. And it increases the effectiveness of health warnings.”
Such policies have already passed in Australia, France, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and many more countries will soon reduce the tobacco industry’s ability to market to its customers.
That said, at least one international coalition of 46 groups upholding property rights across 30 countries, lead by the Property Rights Alliance, have sent a letter to Dr. Chan protesting the implementation of these types of laws which deprive the freedom of companies to market their products.
“Plain packaging prohibits the use of trademarks and therefore significantly erodes the value of this intellectual property — a dangerous precedent to set for commerce in general,” the letter said.
It’s these kinds of policies that Clement and others believe will lead to plain packaging of more than just tobacco products.
“Plain packaging is spreading to other sectors like alcohol and food. This signals a new level of unjustified government intervention in consumer choice,” said Clement.