Tobacco only benefits makers

JORGE da Motta of JTI claims that devolving powers on tobacco duty to Scotland could harm our economy (“Tobacco chief fires up debate over duty”, News, 5 January). But World Bank reports show clearly that tobacco is poor value to any economy, on economic as well as on health grounds, as the diseases smoking causes cut down many in the prime of their working lives. Only tobacco industry shareholders and executives turn a profit from this addictive and lethal substance, which is why they argue hard against measures to reduce its use such as tax rises, while quietly bumping up prices behind the scenes.

Da Motta’s arguments about plain packaging are bizarre and return to well-worn and discredited arguments about increased smuggling and cross-border trade. There is a solid body of published international evidence, showing that flashy tobacco packaging is one of the hooks for young people to notice and start experimenting with cigarettes, and early evidence from Australia shows that standardising packaging is already having beneficial impacts there, without the claimed harms to small businesses.

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His argument about intellectual property was tried and discredited there too – the Australian High Court found that the government was not acquiring intellectual property but restricting its use for good reasons.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive, 
Ash Scotland, Edinburgh