Sajid Javid has joined the 80 to 100 Tory MPs considering voting against the government at Jane Ellison’s plain packs free vote. In his House magazine interview today, the Culture Secretary issued a thinly-veiled dig at the health zealots in his party ignoring evidence from Australia that the world’s toughest anti-smoking laws there ain’t working:
“I will be driven by the evidence. I haven’t decided yet which way I’m going to vote. What I’m taking into account already is that there’s a lot that’s already been done. I don’t smoke but people choose to do so, that’s up to them.
I think government has a duty to try and discourage people. We do that through the tax system at the moment, we do that through the recent rules that came in about newsagents putting tobacco products behind their covers. But also from April this year there’s a new EU directive that 65% of the pack has to be a health warning. When I lived in Singapore they already had that rule and they have some pretty gruesome, hard-hitting health warnings.
So these are big changes already taking place. I’m fully aware that Australia has been among the first countries to use the plain packs. I’m not sure if there’s enough evidence yet, given it’s quite recent, about the impact that can have. But I think that whenever one looks at these kind of changes, you need to be driven by the evidence.”
Saj also becomes the second top Tory in 24 hours – after Boris yesterday – to make Eurosceptic noises. On an EU referendum he says “if they [the public] decide to end that relationship then that is not something anyone should be frightened of”. Wonder what they both have in common…