Letters: Plain cigarette packs a bonus for smugglers

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I N your article “Eastern European gangs vie for piece of fake cigarette market” (News, November 21), Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, argues that “Standard packs will be as sophisticated as current packaging – why would they make a difference to forgers who can easily copy the branded packs?”

As someone who has worked within the packaging industry for the past 40 years, I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement.

The UK packaging industry has been saying for some time that the problem of illicit tobacco in this country is getting worse and that a policy of plain packaging for tobacco products would exacerbate this problem.

Statistics from HM Revenue & Customs back this up. HMRC acknowledges the illicit trade in tobacco is increasing again, and the UK Treasury is losing billions of pounds a year.

Everyone now agrees that the illicit market is growing. Even Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, has acknowledged this situation. That means cigarette smugglers are increasingly successful and two distinct markets are operating – the legal and the illegal.

You can put all the security features you like on legal packs. But, if at the same time we cut criminals’ costs by giving them just one pack design to copy rather than 101, then it is criminals that win. They will plough that money into increasingly sophisticated and successful smuggling operations, especially when we are also cutting border controls. That means criminals will continue to profit from successfully targeting young people and those on low incomes.

The debate on plain packaging would be much better understood if the emotions were extracted and greater thought given to evidence- based solutions rather than speculative judgements.

Mike Ridgway, former MD of Weidenhammer UK Ltd and spokesman for six leading packaging companies

Safety fears over tram tracks in city

AS WE look forward to the New Year and the coming of the trams, I wonder, in spite of the length of time it has taken, whether we are prepared.

It seems to me there are problems with some aspects which need addressing. I wonder whether enough thought has been given to pedestrian safety.

The eastern exit gate of the park in St Andrew Square leads out on to a tram line, but there are no barriers. If a pedestrian, say a child, were to run out in front of a tram which cannot swerve to avoid a person, then the consequences could be serious.

It seems to me that a barrier ought to be erected here and in any other potentially hazardous areas for pedestrians.

Perhaps the expense of any such safety measures could come from a different budget!

B Sneddon, Dumbiedykes, Edinburgh

Wind of change that destroys countryside

The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change published these revealing facts on the website.

Hinkley Point C nuclear power requires 450 acres of land to supply six million homes with electricity.

For the same output wind turbines require 250,000 acres of land and solar panels 130,000 acres.

Following complaints from businesses, harvesting billion of pounds in subsidies from solar and wind power, these facts were removed from the website.

Still think renewables are worth the destruction of our countryside?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Independence would lead to irrelevance

if a majority of Scots are daft enough to sever ties with London next year then Scotland will quickly return to its original impoverished and irrelevant state.

And Salmond and his cronies can forget about relying on oil and gas wealth to fund their dreams of “a land of kilts and honey”. Those resources lie in UK territory, explored and extracted by UK companies. Scotland could, at best, expect a share based on population of less than nine per cent. I suspect when that reality finally dawns, a lot of Scots will find the “benefits” of running their own affairs are suddenly a lot less attractive.

E Billingham, Bruntsfield

Making big deal over the epic White Paper

In producing such an elaborate book on independence, I think the SNP have shot themselves in the foot.

How many of the voters will actually read it and of the few that do will they be any the wiser?

A clear and concise booklet outlining the pros and cons of no more than a dozen or so pages should have been produced instead of the no doubt bamboozling tome that has been offered.

Angus McGregor, Edinburgh

Gift offers the choice to use it or lose it

VERONICA Wikman and her fellow secularists never miss a chance to slam Scotland’s education traditions (Letters, November 23).

Several generations of Scottish school kids will fondly recall receiving a Gideon New Testament during schooldays.

Thereafter, kids could ignore it, throw it way or treasure it, read it or return to it later in life if they wished. What is valuable is that bairns know of the existence and content of the New Testament and can choose whether to accept or reject it for themselves, as we all ourselves did in due course.

The militant secularist lobbyists who have now based themselves in Scotland seem to be unwilling to accept or tolerate Scotland’s cultural traditions, it must seem to many guid Scots.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick