Government legislation forcing cigaratte manufacturers to sell their products in non-branded packaging infantilises adults and is doomed to failure, according to Simon Clark, director of the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST).
From today (Friday), all cigarette packets are required by law to be the same size, shape and colour. More than 60 per cent of the surface must be covered with health warnings, and brand names must be written in a standard font rather use easily identifiabe logos.
Legislators believe these steps will help to reduce the number of smokers in the UK, but Clark disagrees.
"We're saying to adults 'we're going to treat you like children'," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "We're going to take away all these fancy colours, and produce these cigarettes in plain packaging because we think you're too stupid."
Strict packaging guidelines have already been introduced in Australia, but Clark, who has led FOREST's 'hands off our packs' campaign against the new legislation, believes the change does not have sufficient evidence to support claims of success.
"Smoking rates have continued to fall in Australia, but only in line with historical trends," he said. "There's no evidence [the new packaging] actually works.
"We're going to have less choice, because companies are not going to spend time researching and developing new brands if they can't distinguish them."
Clark also disagrees with claims that children are influenced into smoking by cleverly branded packaging.
"I don't think children do start smoking because of packaging, it's because of peer pressure," he said. "Yes, you want to look cool - but that's the cigarette between the lips, not brandishing a packet of cigarettes."