Plain Packaging is the newest craze of the Nanny Statists. As the name suggests “plain packaging" is a regulatory scheme requiring products be sold in a plan box that simply identifies the type of product and the name of the manufacturer. In the case of certain disfavored products (like cigarettes), the package must contain warning about any negative health dangers from the product.
The theory behind plain packaging is that consumers are misled by fancy packages and logos and buy products that are bad for them...so they need the nanny state to "protect" them from themselves.
Australia has implemented plain packaging for cigarettes and (SURPRISE) the results have been lower tobacco prices (since companies cannot compete via marketing they compete via price), and an increase in black market cigarettes, as plain packaging makes it easier to produce and market black market cigarettes.
Australia's plain packaging law has failed to reduce smoking among teenagers--in fact the proportion of Australian teenagers smoking has actually risen since 2007! This is not necessarily because of plain packaging--although the increase in black market cigarette consumption could be a factor in making it easier for teenagers to obtain cigarettes. About the only good thing to come out of plain packaging laws is that the Australian government is getting less tax revenue from cigarettes.
For more details on the effect of plain packaging see here.
Despite the Australian plain packaging law failing to reduce smoking, other countries, most notably England, are considering implementing their own plain packaging laws. They are also considering expanding plain packaging regulations to other products the nanny statists think we should not have such as candy, potato chips, and soda.
Plain Packaging laws have not yet come to the United States, but can anyone doubt is it just a matter of time before some Representative, Senator, or bureaucrat decides to implement plain packaging "for our own good.....and for the children."
Thanks to my friend Tim Andrews, head of the Australian Taxpayers Alliance and a great champion of liberty for bringing this to my attention.
Tags: nanny state