It is hardly surprising that a free market think-tank has produced a report arguing against regulation ("Think-tank hits out at smoking proposal", The Herald, February 20).

What we should be surprised by is their claim that there is no evidence that putting tobacco products into plain packaging will deter young people from taking up smoking.

The exact opposite is true, with a large, and growing, body of evidence suggesting that plain packaging would be effective. In a range of different studies researchers have consistently found that plain packaging makes tobacco products less appealing to both children and adults.

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The tobacco industry response to any moves to regulate their activity is to cry out that other products will be next. But tobacco isn't like other products. It is the only freely-available legal product which is lethal to its consumers when used exactly as the manufacturer intended, and it kills one in two of its long-term users.

Why do we allow tobacco to be packaged up like sweets when studies repeatedly indicate that the packaging makes this addictive and lethal product more attractive to young people?

Interestingly, while tobacco industry lobbyists claim that plain packaging will make no difference, they also claim exactly the opposite, that plain packaging will ruin local retailers. There are no grounds to believe either position.

The deterrent effect of plain packaging means that tobacco sales should decline gradually, but not immediately, with the main effect being to reduce the number of young people becoming new smokers.

Free market think tanks are, of course, entitled to their opinions about plain packaging. But they should not misrepresent the facts.

Sheila Duffy,

Chief Executive,

ASH Scotland,

8 Frederick Street,

Edinburgh.

"Two boxers in punch-up". Is this not tautology ?

Allan Roderick Morrison,

52 Croftend Avenue,

Glasgow.