A costly decision

Your article (12 May) on plain packaging of cigarettes and Scotch whisky very helpfully highlighted the potential unintended consequences of the Scottish Government proceeding with plain packaging legislation.

In addition to whisky being needlessly caught up in a trade war, there is also a strong ­possibility of a legal challenge by the tobacco manufacturers, who will have a strong case under the ­deprivation of intellectual ­property provisions of the ­European Convention of Human Rights.

Losing such a case puts the Scottish Government – and ­ultimately, Scottish taxpayers – 
at risk of paying hundreds of ­millions of pounds in compensation.

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It is perhaps not widely known that the Scottish Parliament has approved a Legislative Consent Motion on plain packaging, which means that Scotland will be included in any UK legislation.

It is likely that the World Trade Organisation will give its decision in the case against plain packaging in Australia, brought by countries including Indonesia, by the end of this year.

Both the Scottish and UK governments should wait until this verdict is delivered before they make any rash decision on this ineffective and unnecessary ­policy.

John Drummond

Chief executive

Scottish Grocers