The big breaking news as my Road to Prohibition tour ended in Dublin the other week was the proposal to force the sale of cigarettes in plain single colour boxes.
Those who support this move are suggesting publicly that there is huge support from the general public for this and that the allure of the colorful boxes simply overwhelms ordinary people to the extent that rush into the shops and buy loads of boxes of cigarettes because of the wrapping. To this latter piece of nonsense I would counter that beautifully designed petrol pumps would have little effect on what petrol you buy and those same decorateive pumps would not induce children to part with their pocket money in return for a can of diesel.
But it's the claim that the public support the move without ever asking the public what they think. You might expect that if 71 per cent of the population don't smoke, then 71% of people would say they supported the move if asked. That level of a majority should welcome plain packs, but are the general public being asked that question?
In the absence of a vote on the matter, the Journal did just that yesterday. Following a report on the story they asked the straightforward question, "Do you welcome the introduction of plain pack cigarettes?" Incredibly they got 3,345 voters and, even more incredibly, 52 per cent were against the plain packaging idea with only 29 per cent in favour.
How's that for the will of the people?