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Death and taxes are the two universally accepted certainties in an otherwise unpredictable world. And our Government appears more determined than ever to employ the fear of the former and the use of the latter in its quest to make us all healthier and longer lived.

Combating the threat of early death due to obesity, smoking and drinking too much alcohol is at the core of much of its current and impending regulation.

One cannot argue against our legislators’ higher motives, but some of their proposals are just plain wrong headed. The prime example of such crassness is the anticipated ban on tobacco displays that will hit larger retailers in 2011 and the convenience market a couple of years later – that is, unless wiser counsel prevails.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors continues to lobby against this provision in the Health Bill that is currently going through Parliament and aims to deter children from taking up smoking. It was therefore with no little satisfaction that we heard the recent news from New Zealand that a similar display ban has effectively been ruled out there.

No lesser person than the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, said in a TV interview that there was no evidence that a tobacco display ban actually reduces youth smoking. Giving this as the main reason for reversing proposals for the ban, he also cited the detrimental impact the measures would have on small businesses as a large factor in coming to the decision. He estimated it would cost each retailer $6,000 to make the necessary changes.

This was an eminently sensible decision and one that FWD and others will be making known to our politicians here in no uncertain manner.

Binge drinking was the subject of a recent meeting FWD attended at the Home Office to discuss a Draft Mandatory Code of Practice for the Alcohol Industry that emanates from the Police and Crime Bill. Most of this is aimed at curbing binge drinking in the on trade, but the code may also affect wholesalers’ off licence retail customers. Therefore, we intend to ensure that it is fair and proportionate.

Although people smoked a lot more in those days, it is generally agreed that our nation was never healthier than it was during and just after World War II. This was largely due to the imposition of food rationing and it makes me wonder if we are possibly heading for something along those lines, but just by a different route!

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