EU shouldn’t meddle in what we do well already

Zella had a fantastic day at Titchfield Haven and wonders what other local gems she's overlooked      Picture: Gary Taw

ZELLA COMPTON: Looking afresh at our beautiful spot in the world

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Who would have thought the design of the humble fag packet could jeopardise the livelihoods of so many?

It’s hard to believe that next week Euro MPs will have the jobs of nearly 70 Portsmouth people in their hands.

For on September 10 they will vote on whether cigarette packets should be standardised throughout the European Union.

As we report today, the idea is to ensure health warning pictures on the cartons take up three-quarters of the space; that rounded or bevelled edges are removed and that most of the features which distinguish the different brands are eliminated.

Why? Apparently it’s all to do with ramming home the health message even harder. As if the current gory pictures on these packets aren’t hard-hitting enough.

We support moves to encourage people to give up smoking and wholeheartedly back concerted attempts to prevent young people starting the habit, but surely this EU plan might have the opposite effect?

According to those who work at Chesapeake Branded Packaging at Hilsea, the move, if approved at that vote next week, might achieve exactly the opposite.

They say the hi-tech printing and cutting techniques they use to make packets means copying them is very difficult.

Homogenising them, they claim, will lead to counterfeiters flooding the market with cheap cigarettes which will only encourage more to continue smoking or take it up in the first place.

The firm’s print supervisor Mark Foster says: ‘This policy means well but a side-effect will be that it is cheaper and easier to mass-produce counterfeit cigarettes.

‘Increased counterfeit production will only add to the already serious illicit trade in tobacco problem facing the country.’

This appears to be another instance of the EU meddling in something which does not need sorting in the UK. If other countries’ packaging is not up to scratch, why not bring it up to our standards and give the work to Chesapeake?