With previous aluminium tubing, it was easy to roll up the tube and squeeze out the last drops. But with modern plastic tube varieties introduced in the 1980s, the public has found that the tube does not stay furled up.
Users have taken to sucking out the remaining paste, applying a small hammer, switching to Euthymol or purchasing the paste in a round tin.
Would that be the end of it. But Professor Stefan Buczacki has greatly broadened the debate by recounting how, on recently attempting to buy a tube of Sensodyne Daily Care at a supermarket, “the purchase was delayed while an assistant was summoned to ascertain that I was over the age of 18”.
Absurd though this seems, it is not unfamiliar as ever-greater regulation, box-ticking and policing of the most minor of activities sweep all before them.
Back in the day – as contemporary idiom has it – we were able to do all manner of things until instructed not to do so.
Today it seems we can do little without express permission from the law or officials. “There must be a law!” goes the cry. But a law for everything? Even for buying toothpaste?
Before long all our actions will be governed by a vast Napoleonic code.
This great toothpaste tube controversy is set to run and run.