GEOFF Barrett's apparent concerns about the prospect of standardised packaging for cigarettes in Scotland (Letters, November 14) don't survive even the most cursory scrutiny.

Mr Barratt is correct that peer pressure plays a significant role in explaining why another 40 under-age youngsters across Scotland will become hooked on tobacco today. But to deny the role played by the slick branding and packaging of tobacco products is disingenuous and flies in face of a considerable evidence base.

More than 50 international studies have shown that children and young people do find colourful and "cool"' tobacco branding to be more attractive. That's why the tobacco industry invests so heavily in this aspect of promotion.

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We should anticipate a flurry of stories like this from the tobacco industry and its allies. This will be underpinned by fear as a host of internal briefing papers have shown that the tobacco industry views standardised packaging as a game changer that threatens to fatally undermine take-up of smoking by young people.

Dr James Cant,

Head of British Lung Foundation Scotland,

104 Baltic Chambers,

50 Wellington Street, Glasgow.

STRUAN Stevenson's intervention on the subject of e-cigarettes was depressing but predictable (Letters, November 14). Mr Stevenson asserts that as some children who have never smoked traditional cigarettes use e-cigarettes this demonstrates that e-cigarettes constitute a "gateway" to tobacco consumption. In actual fact it demonstrates exactly the opposite - that they are a road block to the same. Those children are much better off, and in much better health, and have much better prospects for the future, than if they had become traditional tobacco smokers.

What this debate does serve to highlight is the fact that the original smoking ban of 2006 had very little to do with health. Had the supposed concerns over the health of bar staff genuinely have been the primary concern, then the dangers could have been easily eliminated in precisely the same way that they are in countless other industries where toxic fumes are present - by means of effective standards of ventilation and air treatment.

The truth of the matter is that the tobacco ban was brought in because lots of people just don't like smoking or smokers - most of whom do not belong to the same social class or frequent the same forms of entertainment as our esteemed politicians. The secular religion of health was merely a ruse deployed to veil their intolerance.

Chris McLaughlin,

71b Braidpark Drive, Giffnock.