Lib Dem members back plain cigarette packaging, but more evenly divided on minimum alcohol pricing

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members back plain cigarette packaging

Do you support or oppose banning brightly coloured branding and packaging for cigarettes and introducing plain packs?

    40% – Strongly support
     
    26% – Tend to support

    Total support = 66%
     
    17% – Tend to oppose
     
    11% – Strongly oppose

    Total oppose = 28%
     
    5% – Don’t know

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members back a ban on plain cigarette packaging; a little more than one-quarter are opposed. The proposal was due to be implemented by the Coalition, but has been dropped, sparking controversy over the involvement of Lynton Crosby, David Cameron’s senior campaign strategist. The plain packing ban proposal is strongly backed by Lib Dem MPs such as Stephen Williams, but is deeply unpopular among liberatarian Lib Dems such as Liberal Vision.

Lib Dem members back minimum alcohol pricing by 53% to 42%

Do you support or oppose introducing a minimum price for alcohol of about 45p per unit? This would mean the minimum price for a bottle of wine would be about £4.29, the minimum price for a bottle of spirits would be about £11.81 and the minimum price for a twelve can pack of lager would be about £9.50

    30% – Strongly support

    23% – Tend to support

    Total support = 53%

    23% – Tend to oppose

    19% – Strongly oppose

    Total oppose = 42%

    3% – Don’t know

A much closer result on the issue of minimum alcohol pricing: a majority support it (53%), but a hefty minority of 42% are opposed. Again, this proposal was dropped recently by the Coalition — in fact, I made Lib Dem home office minister Jeremy Browne my CentreForum Liberal Hero of the Week for his statement setting out why the government was pausing.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Just over 600 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 19th and 23rd July.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    21 Comments

    • Simon McGrath 3rd Aug '13 - 5:29pm

      53% of Lds want poor people to have to pay more to have a drink. That is depresssing

    • No comments for this one?

      Have to say I feel quite ashamed by these results.

    • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Aug '13 - 7:31pm

      My reading of these odd results: “I mean, everyone has the right to become an alcoholic and go through all the consequences – it’s their choice, that’s the price of freedom.” Really?

      “As for cigarette packaging – they’re socially unacceptable now , it’s okay to oppose them.”

      Where’s the consistency Lib Dems?

    • Nonsense Simon McG, alcohol and tobacco are vile addictive drugs, We should be encouraging people to do acid, ecstasy, mescaline, psilocybin and marijuana instead.

      All harmless and so much more fun…

    • Both results are depressing. I agree with Mark Valladares “that plain packaging is unlikely to have much impact.” The liberal argument is people should be free to do anything so long it doesn’t harm others. Using this argument (I think) in the past we agreed that some illegal drugs should be no longer illegal.

      It could be argued that smoking and alcohol cause harm to people and so should be banned. However when alcohol was banned in the USA it increased crime therefore causing more harm. It is unlikely we would ever ban smoking and alcohol therefore we are left with these suggestions.

      Is there any evidence that the number of cigarettes smoked will decrease if they are in plain packaging? (When I started smoking I just smoked the same brand as my friends and the look of the box didn’t have any influence on what brand I smoked.) If not then it is just action for action’s sake and it is restricting competition which can be considered illiberal unless there is a good reason to do so.

      Minimum pricing of alcohol restricts the freedom of the poor to buy as much alcohol as they wish but doesn’t for the rich therefore it is discriminating and thus illiberal. There is a case to make it illegal to sell alcohol as loss-leaders and as liberals we should support such a law because it is anti-competitive.

    • As a Party we are depressingly in thrall to anything that a white coat (or more likely their pharmaceutical industry-funded social-scientist proxy) says and too much in love with the “something must be done. This is something…” approach.

    • Here’s an idea.
      How about pictures of a rotting liver and kidneys on bottles of malt whisky and Gin, Vodka etc. I suppose it could be extended to Merlot, Chardonnay,… etc

      OK….. I’ll just go and get my coat.
      But before I go, why in these discussions, does no-one ask the question, of why life can be so dull, disconnected, disenfranchising, and un-engaging for so many people (rich and poor), that they feel the need to elevate their mood, with some or other chemical?
      “…..More tea and fluoxetine Vicar?”

    • jenny barnes 4th Aug '13 - 8:56am

      why in these discussions, does no-one ask the question, of why life can be so dull, disconnected, disenfranchising, and un-engaging for so many people

      It’s called alienation. Brought to you by an economic system known lately as neoliberal capitalism. I think it would be good if the the taxes on alcohol covered such things as the impact on the NHS – A&E, long term dealing with liver damage etc – road accidents caused wholly or partly by drink, relationship breakups and domestic violence ditto, and any other externalities. Maybe plus a bit to go into the general pot – help provide for those exciting submarines and the rural fuel subsidy DA wants, for example. After that, fill your boots.

    • Michael Parsons 4th Aug '13 - 9:55am

      Plain packaging? Whatever happened to the campaign for clearer labelling of brands and their source and content? What a depressing lot the Demi-libs are turning into.

    • Helen Tedcastle 4th Aug '13 - 11:45am

      Mark Valladares: “Are you reading the same results as I am? ” Yes. My comment refers to the narrower majority of Lib Dems favouring alcohol pricing over against the much larger majority favouring plain cigarette packaging. Both addictions are harmful and I was surprised that less people appear to want something done about alcohol.

      I agree with some comments on the question of alienation and addiction. I think we can do something about this through creation of meaningful jobs at the same time as curbing the spend on benefits. Simply capping benefits, denigrating those on benefits and hoping that people find jobs, is reckless neo-liberalism.

      Also, in introducing measures to minimise the temptation to turn to drink and smoking through packaging and pricing measures, the Government enables the citizen to pause and consider before buying. They still have the choice but if it is made more difficult and less socially acceptable, it helps people make their decisions. This is for the general social good.

    • Max Wilkinson 4th Aug '13 - 2:17pm

      “Down with bad and harmful things. Booooo.”

    • The cost of treating the growing number of people drinking heavily is enormous for the NHS.

    • Geoffrey – people do not need saving from themselves.

    • Simon Banks 4th Aug '13 - 4:42pm

      Did J Browne really “explain the reasons for pausing”? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

    • @ Geoffrey Payne

      The Wikipedia article you give the reference for does not provide any evidence that plain packaging has any effect. It quotes from laboratory studies that say when given a choice between plain and normal packaging there is an effect, however it does not state that where there is no choice there is an effect. As far as I can tell there have not been any studies in Australia on whether cigarette sales have been effected. We, as yet, do not know if plain packaging will affect the number of people dying as a result of cigarette smoking.

      I don’t think there is any evidence that “people on low incomes are more likely to become alcoholics. “Alcoholism is not restricted to any specific socioeconomic group or class.” http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/alcoholism/risk-factors.html
      There is an argument that drink should have extra taxes on it because of the costs to society but I am not against this. We should provide help to the minority of the people who drink who become alcoholics not penalise the poor.

      The freedom to carry an implement (a gun) whose main purpose is to harm or kill living things is not the same as allowing someone to smoke or drink alcohol. The freedom to smoke and drink alcohol could be compared to the freedom to kill oneself maybe!

    • Helen Tedcastle 5th Aug '13 - 11:21am

      @ Dave Page: I take your points though I’m not favouring MAP mindlessly, because ‘something must be done’ no matter. It’s just it might well work as a deterrent to casual binge-drinking – the scourge of town-centre weekends and home-based alcoholism.

      I am sure you are right that nuanced and thoughtful measures as you suggest, will be effective longer term.

      Some moderate drinkers will be affected by MAP as smokers are by anti-smoking measures. However, both are addictions which cause serious harm. hardened alcoholics will try hard to get their drink no matter what. MAP is meant to discourage the binge-drinker.

      The Government could have taken a stand on it but instead, caved in to the vested interests of the alcohol industry and the big supermarkets.

    • The arguments for both are amoral. The main gainer from the sale cigarettes and alcohol is the British government. Tax already imposes a minimum price. Remove your finger from the pie and then there is a debate. But whilst making a huge profit from them you can have no moral stance. The point is that the government makes more money from tobacco addiction than tobacco companies and is indulging in a prurient moral panic about alcohol.

    • Max Wilkinson 5th Aug '13 - 6:59pm

      @Helen

      I think you may be wrong in comparing the two as addictions.

      I believe that as a casual drinker I’m not addicted to alcohol. I can dip in and out whenever I fancy. The same goes for the majority of people I know who drink alcohol. I’m quite confident that I and others I know could quite easily give up. Indeed, I have gone for weeks during my adult life without drinking.

      Conversely, the majority of people I know who smoke are addicted to the habit. They are unable to stop whenever they want and are compelled to smoke.

      On that basis, I do not think the ills of smoking and drinking can be equated in the way that you have.

      I’m against both plain packaging and minimum alcohol pricing. It matters not to me that the tobacco industry has campaigned vociferiously against plain packets; the main point is that regulating the designs of legally available products seems ridiculous and illiberal.

      I’d much rather we did something that would really make a real difference to health and well-being.

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